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THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
T H'5 BOOK IS FROM THe\
K< LAKE PROMENADE j£
V. TORONTO 14 '^
THE SUMMA CONTRA
SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS
LITERALLY TRANSLATED BY THE ENGLISH
FROM THE LATEST LEONINE EDITION
BURNS OATES & WASHBOVRNE LTD.
28 ORCHARD STREET W. 1 8-10 PATERNOSTER ROW E.C.4
AND . AT . MANCHESTER . BIRMINGHAM . AND . GLASGOW
R.P.F. Vincentius McNabb, O.P.. S.T.M.
R.P.F. Lucas Walker, O.P., S.T.L.
R.P.F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., M.A.,
Prior Provincialis Anglite.
Die 13 Ncrvejnbris, 1923.
Festo S. Tf tonne Aquinatis,
NIHIL OBSTAT :
G. H. Joyce, S.J.,
Edm. Can. Surmont,
Pie 15 Febrtiarii, 1923.
Male and Printed in Great Britain
Fifteen years ago the English Dominican Fathers embarked
on what was considered by many the hazardous and even
useless venture of translating the Summa Theologica of the
Angelic Doctor. Yet although there were critics adverse
to the project, there were others, not a few, who approved
and encouraged ; these and the favour with which the effort,
notwithstanding its many deficiencies, was received, heart-
ened the translators to persevere, and enabled them to bring
their work to a happy conclusion. For the venture has
proved a success beyond the most sanguine expectations ;
and already the work has entered into a second edition.
During the progress of translating the Summa Theo-
logica the translators were frequently asked why they had
given preference to this work over the Summa Contra
Gentiles. The reason is a simple one. The Latin text of
the latter work, edited by P. A. Uccelli in 1857, was
extremely defective, owing to the editor's inability to read
St. Thomas's handwriting correctly. 1 Father Peter Paul
Mackey, who has been on the staff of the editors of the
Leonine Edition of St. Thomas's works for forty years, told
the writer of this preface that it took him over two years to
learn how to read St. Thomas's autograph. It was not till
1918 that the above editors published the first two books of
the Summa Contra Gentiles. Hence the delay in the trans-
lation. It is hoped that the English translation will receive
the same indulgence and favour as that which has been
accorded to the translation of the Summa Theologica.
E. L. S.
1 A few examples will suffice to illustrate to what extent the text of
Uccelli's edition wanders from the true reading. The ordinary print is
Uccelli's version, the correct text is in italics :
Et hoc de facto. Et hoc Deus est. Bk. I., ch. xviii.
Deus autem est ipsius similitudo. Deus autem est ipsum snum esse.
Ibid., ch. xxxvii.
In rerum autem profligatione. In rerum autem propagationc.
Bk. II., ch. xxviii.
Ut fatalitas habet. Ut forte Veritas habet. Ibid., ch. xlii.
I. IN WHAT CONSISTS THE OFFICE OF A WISE MAN - - I
II. THE AUTHOR'S INTENTION IN THIS WORK - - - 3
III. IN WHAT WAY IT IS POSSIBLE TO MAKE KNOWN THE DIVINE
IV. THAT THE TRUTH ABOUT DIVINE THINGS WHICH IS ATTAIN-
ABLE BY REASON IS FITTINGLY PROPOSED TO MAN AS AN
OBJECT OF BELIEF ------ 7
V. THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH CANNOT BE INVESTIGATED BY
REASON ARE FITTINGLY PROPOSED TO MAN AS AN OBJECT
OF FAITH -------9
VI. THAT IT IS NOT A MARK OF LEVITY TO ASSENT TO THE THINGS
THAT ARE OF FAITH, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE ABOVE REASON II
VII. THAT THE TRUTH OF REASON IS NOT IN OPPOSITION TO THE
TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH - - - 14
VIII. IN WHAT RELATION HUMAN REASON STANDS TO THE TRUTH
OF FAITH -------15
IX. OF THE ORDER AND MODE OF PROCEDURE IN THIS WORK - l6
X. OF THE OPINION OF THOSE WHO AVER THAT IT CANNOT BE
DEMONSTRATED THAT THERE IS A GOD, SINCE THIS IS
SELF-EVIDENT - - - - - - l8
XI. REFUTATION OF THE FOREGOING OPINION AND SOLUTION OF
THE AFORESAID ARGUMENTS - - - 19
XII. OF THE OPINION OF THOSE WHO SAY THAT THE EXISTENCE
OF GOD CANNOT BE PROVED, AND THAT IT IS HELD BY
FAITH ALONE - - - - - -21
XIII. ARGUMENTS IN PROOF OF GOD'S EXISTENCE - - " 2 3
XIV. THAT IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IT IS
NECESSARY TO PROCEED BY THE WAY OF REMOTION - 33
XV. THAT GOD IS ETERNAL - - - - - 34
XVI. THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO PASSIVE POTENTIALITY - -36
XVII. THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO MATTER - - - 38
XVIII. THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO COMPOSITION - - - 39
XIX. THAT IN GOD THERE IS NOTHING VIOLENT OR BESIDE NATURE 41
XX. THAT GOD IS NOT A BODY - - - - 42
XXI. THAT GOD IS HIS OWN ESSENCE - - - 51
XXII. THAT IN GOD EXISTENCE AND ESSENCE ARE THE SAME - 53
XXIII. THAT THERE IS NO ACCIDENT IN GOD - - 56
XXIV. THAT THE DIVINE BEING CANNOT BE SPECIFIED BY THE ADDI-
TION OF ANY SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE - - 58
XXV. THAT GOD IS NOT IN ANY GENUS - - - - 60
XXVI. THAT GOD IS NOT THE FORMAL BEING OF ALL THINGS - 62
XXVII. THAT GOD IS NOT THE FORM OF A BODY - - - 66
XXVIII. OF THE DIVINE PERFECTION - - - - - 68
XXIX. OF THE LIKENESS OF CREATURES - - - 7 1
XXX. WHAT TERMS CAN BE PREDICATED OF GOD - - 72
XXXI. THAT THE DIVINE PERFECTION AND THE PLURALITY OF
DIVINE NAMES ARE NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE
DIVINE SIMPLICITY - - - - "74
XXXII. THAT NOTHING IS PREDICATED UNIVOCALLY OF GOD AND
OTHER THINGS - - - - - 76
XXXIII. THAT NOT ALL TERMS APPLIED TO GOD AND CREATURES ARE
PURELY EQUIVOCAL - - - - 78
XXXIV. THAT TERMS APPLIED TO GOD AND CREATURES ARE EM-
PLOYED ANALOGICALLY - - - - "79
XXXV. THAT THE SEVERAL NAMES PREDICATED OF GOD ARE NOT
SYNONYMOUS - - - - - - 80
XXXVI. HOW OUR INTELLECT FORMS A PROPOSITION ABOUT GOD - 8 1
XXXVII. THAT GOD IS GOOD - - - - - 82
XXXVIII. THAT GOD IS GOODNESS ITSELF - - - -83
XXXIX. THAT NO EVIL CAN BE IN GOD - - - 84
XL. THAT GOD IS THE GOOD OF EVERY GOOD - - - 86
XLI. THAT GOD IS THE SOVEREIGN GOOD - - 87
XLII. THAT GOD IS ONE - - - - - - 88
XLIII. THAT GOD IS INFINITE - - - - "94
XLIV. THAT GOD IS AN INTELLIGENT BEING - - 98
XLV. THAT GOD'S ACT OF INTELLIGENCE IS HIS ESSENCE - - IOI
XL VI. THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS BY NOTHING ELSE THAN HIS
ESSENCE - - - - - - - I03
XLVII. THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS HIMSELF PERFECTLY - - I04
XLVIII. THAT GOD KNOWS ONLY HIMSELF FIRST AND PER SE - I06
XLIX. THAT GOD KNOWS THINGS OTHER THAN HIMSELF - - I08
L. THAT GOD HAS PROPER KNOWLEDGE OF ALL THINGS - IO9
LI. 1 REASONS FOR INQUIRING HOW THERE IS A MULTITUDE OF
LII. J THINGS UNDERSTOOD IN THE DIVINE INTELLECT - 112
LIII. SOLUTION OF THE FOREGOING DOUBT - - - II4
LIV. HOW THE DIVINE ESSENCE, THOUGH ONE AND SIMPLE, IS A
PROPER LIKENESS OF ALL THINGS INTELLIGIBLE - Il6
LV. THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS ALL THINGS AT THE SAME INSTANT Il8
LVI. THAT GOD'S KNOWLEDGE IS NOT A HABIT - - - 120
LVII. THAT GOD'S KNOWLEDGE IS NOT DISCURSIVE - - 122
LVIII. THAT GOD DOES NOT UNDERSTAND BY COMPOSITION AND
DIVISION ..-.-. 124
LIX. THAT GOD IS NOT IGNORANT OF THE TRUTH OF ENUNCIA-
TIONS ------- 126
LX. THAT GOD IS TRUTH ------ 128
LXI. THAT GOD IS THE MOST PURE TRUTH - - - - I2Q
LXII. THAT THE DIVINE TRUTH IS THE FIRST AND SUPREME TRUTH 131
LXIII. THE ARGUMENTS OF THOSE WHO WOULD DENY TO GOD THE
KNOWLEDGE OF SINGULARS - - - - 132
LXIV. ORDER OF THE THINGS TO BE SAID ABOUT THE DIVINE
KNOWLEDGE - - - - - - 135
LXV. THAT GOD KNOWS SINGULARS - - - - 135
LXVI. THAT GOD KNOWS THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT - - 139
LXVII. THAT GOD KNOWS FUTURE CONTINGENT SINGULARS - I42
LXVIII. THAT GOD KNOWS THE MOVEMENTS OF THE WILL - - I46
LXIX. THAT GOD KNOWS INFINITE THINGS - I48
LXX. THAT GOD KNOWS TRIVIAL THINGS - - - - 152
LXXI. THAT GOD KNOWS EVIL THINGS - - - - 155
LXXII. THAT IN GOD THERE IS WILL ... - 159
LXXIH. THAT GOD'S WILL IS HIS ESSENCE - - - - 162
LXXIV. THAT THE PRINCIPAL OBJECT OF GOD'S WILL IS THE DIVINE
ESSENCE ------ 163
LXXV. THAT GOD IN WILLING HIMSELF WILLS ALSO OTHER THINGS 164
LXXVI. THAT GOD, BY THE ONE ACT OF HIS WILL, WILLS HIMSELF
AND OTHER THINGS ----- 166
LXXVII. THAT THE MULTITUDE OF THINGS WILLED IS NOT INCON-
SISTENT WITH THE DIVINE SIMPLICITY - - - 168
LXXVIII. THAT THE DIVINE WILL EXTENDS TO PARTICULAR GOODS 169
LXXIX. THAT GOD WILLS EVEN THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT YET - 171
LXXX. THAT GOD NECESSARILY WILLS HIS BEING AND HIS GOODNESS 173
LXXXI. THAT GOD DOES NOT NECESSARILY WILL OTHER THINGS
THAN HIMSELF - - - - - C74
LXXXII. OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE STATEMENT THAT GOD WILLS
NOT OF NECESSITY THINGS OTHER THAN HIMSELF, IN
THAT IT INVOLVES IMPOSSIBILITIES - - - 1 76
LXXXIII. THAT GOD WILLS SOMETHING OTHER THAN HIMSELF BY A
NECESSITY OF SUPPOSITION - - - "179
LXXXIV. THAT GOD'S WILL IS NOT OF THINGS IMPOSSIBLE IN THEM-
SELVES ...... 180
LXXXV. THAT THE DIVINE WILL DOES NOT REMOVE CONTINGENCY
FROM THINGS, NOR IMPOSE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY ON
THEM ...... 182
LXXXVI. THAT A REASON OF THE DIVINE WILL CAN BE ASSIGNED - 183
LXXXVII. THAT NOTHING CAN BE THE CAUSE OF THE DIVINE WILL - 1 84
LXXXVIII. THAT IN GOD THERE IS FREE-WILL - - - - 185
LXXXIX. THAT THE PASSIONS OF THE APPETITE ARE NOT IN GOD - 186
XC. THAT IN GOD ARE DELIGHT AND JOY ; NOR ARE THEY INCOM-
PATIBLE WITH THE DIVINE PERFECTION - - 1 89
XCI. THAT IN GOD THERE IS LOVE - - - - IOI
XCII. HOW VIRTUES ARE TO BE ASCRIBED TO GOD - - 1 96
XCIII. THAT IN GOD THERE ARE THE MORAL VIRTUES WHICH ARE
ABOUT ACTIONS .... iq8
XCIV. THAT THE CONTEMPLATIVE VIRTUES ARE IN GOD - - 202
XCV. THAT GOD CANNOT WILL EVIL - 203
XCVI. THAT GOD HATES NOTHING, NOR CAN THE HATRED OF ANY-
THING BE ASCRIBED TO HIM .... 204
XCVII. THAT GOD IS A LIVING BEING .... 206
XCVIII. THAT GOD IS HIS OWN LIFE - 207
XCIX. THAT GOD'S LIFE IS ETERNAL .... 208
C. THAT GOD IS HAPPY ..... 2 OQ
CI. THAT GOD IS HIS OWN HAPPINESS - - - - 211
CII. THAT GOD'S HAPPINESS IS PERFECT AND SINGULAR, SUR-
PASSING ALL OTHER HAPPINESS - - - 212
THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
IN WHAT CONSISTS THE OFFICE OF A WISE MAN
My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate wickedness. —
Prov. viii. 7.
The general use which, in the Philosopher's 1 opinion,
should be followed in naming things, has resulted in those
men being called wise who direct things themselves^and
govern them well. Wherefore among other things which
men conceive of the wise man, the Philosopher reckons
that it belongs to the wise man to direct things. 2 Now the
rule of all things directed to the end of government and
order must needs be taken from their end : for then is a
thing best disposed when it is fittingly directed to its end,
since the end of everything is its good. Wherefore in the
arts we observe that the art which governs and rules
another is the one to which the latter's end belongs : thus
the medical art rules and directs the art of the druggist,
because health which is the object of medicine is the end of
all drugs which are made up by the druggist's art/ The
same may be observed in the art of sailing in relation to
the art of ship-building, and in the military art in relation
to the equestrian art and all warlike appliances. These
arts which govern others are called master-arts (architec-
tonics), that is principal arts, for which reason their
craftsmen, who are called master-craftsmen (architec-
tores), are awarded the name of wise men. Since, how-
ever, these same craftsmen, through being occupied with
the ends of certain singular things, do not attain to
1 2 Top. 1. 5. 2 1 Metaph. ii. 3.
2 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
the universal end of all things,jfo£y.„ajft called wise ahaut
this or that, in which sense it is said (i Cor. iii. in) : As a
wise architect, I have laid the foundation; whereas the
name of being wise simpjy is reserved to him alone whose
consideration is about the end of the universe, which end
is also the beginning of the universe : wherefore, according
to the Philosopher, 1 it belongs to the wise man to consider
the highest causes.
Now the last end of each thing is that which is intended
by the first author or mover of that thing : and the first
author and mover of the universe is an intellect, as we shall
prove further on. 2 Consequently the last end of the
universe must be the good of the intellect : and this is
truth. Therefore truth must be the last end of the whole
universe; and the consideration thereof must be the chief
occupation of wisdom. And for this reason divine Wis-
dom, clothed in flesh, declares that He came into the world
to make Known the truth, saying (Jo. xviii. 37) : For this
was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that
I should give testimony to the truth. Moreover the Philo-
sopher defines the First Philosophy as being the knowledge
of truth, 3 not of any truth, but of that truth which is the
source of all truth', of that, namely, which relates to the
first principle of being of all things ; wherefore its truth is
the principle of all truth, since the disposition of things is
the same in truth as in being.
Now it belongs to the same thing to pursue one contrary
and to remove the other : thus medicine which effects
health, removes sickness. Hence, just as it belongs to a
wise man to meditate and disseminate truth", especially
about the first principle, so does it belong to him to refute
Wherefore the twofold office of the wise man is fittingly
declared from the mouth of Wisdom, in the words above
quoted ; namely, to meditate and publish the divine truth,
which antonomastically is the truth, as signified by the
1 1 Metaph. i. 12 ; ii. 7. a Ch. xliv. ; Bk. II., ch. xxiv.
3 1 a Metaph. i. 4, 5.
CHAPTER II 3
words, My mouth shall meditate truth; and to refute the
error contrary to truth, as signified by the words, and my
lips shall hate wickedness, by which is denoted falsehood
opposed to divine truth, which falsehood is contrary to
religion that is also called godliness, wherefore the
falsehood that is contrary thereto receives the name of
THE AUTHOR'S INTENTION IN THIS WORK
Now of all human pursuits, that of wisdom is the most
perfect, the most sublime, the most profitable, the most
delightful*, lit is the most perfect, since in proportion as
a man devotes himself to the pursuit of wisdom, so much
does he already share in true happiness : wherefore the
wise man says (Ecclus. xiv.^?) : Blessed is the man that
shall continue in wisdom, ft is the most sublime because
thereby especially does man approach to a likeness to God,
Who made all things in wisdom: 1 wherefore since likeness
is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially unites
man to God by friendship : hence it is said (Wis. vii. 14)
that wisdom is an infinite treasure to men : which they that
use, become the friends of God. fit is the most profitable,
because by wisdom itself man is brought to the kingdom
of immortality, for the desire of wisdom bringeth to the
everlasting kingdom (Wis. vi. 2l).^£And it is the most
delightful because her conversation hath no bitterness, nor
her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness
(Wis. viii. 16).
Wherefore, taking heart from God's lovingkindness to
assume the office of a wise man, although it surpasses our
own powers, the purpose we have in view is, in our own weak
way, to declare the truth which the Catholic faith professes,
while weeding out contrary errors; for, in the words of
Hilary, 2 7 acknowledge that I owe my life's chief occupa-
1 Ps. ciii. 24. 3 De Trin. i. 37.
4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
tion to God, so that every word and every thought of mine
may speak of Him . But it is difficult to refute the errors of each
individual, for two reasons. QFirst, because the sacrilegious
assertions of each erring individual are not so well known
to us, that we are able from what they say to find arguments
to refute their errors. For the Doctors of old used this
method in order to confute the errors of the heathens, whose
opinions they were able to know, since either they had
been heathens themselves, or had lived among heathens
and were conversant with their teachings .\ '^Secondly,
because some of them, like the Mohammedans and pagans,
do not agree with us as to the authority of any Scripture
whereby they may be convinced, in the same way as we
are able to dispute with the Jews by means of the Old
Testament, and with heretics by means of the New :
whereas the former accept neither. Wherefore it is neces-
sary to have recourse to natural reason, to which all are
compelled to assent. And yet this is deficient in the things
And while we are occupied in the inquiry about a
particular truth, we shall show what errors are excluded
thereby, and how demonstrable truth is in agreement with
the faith of the Christian religion.
IN WHAT WAY IT IS POSSIBLE TO MAKE KNOWN THE DIVINE
Since, however, not every truth is to be made known in the
same way, and it is the part of an educated man to seek for
conviction in each subject, only so far as the nature of the
subject allows, 1 as the Philosopher most rightly observes as
quoted by Boethius, 2 it is necessary to show first of all in
what way it is possible to make known the aforesaid truth.
Now in those things which we hold about God there is
1 i Ethic, iii. 4. a De Trin. ii.
CHAPTER III 5
truth in two ways. For certain things that are true about
God wholly surpass the capability pi human reason, for
instance that God is three and one : while there are certain
things to which even natural reason can attain, for instance
that God is, that God is one, and others like these, which
even the philosophers proved demonstratively of God,
being guided by the light of natural reason.
That certain divine truths wholly surpass the capability
of human reason, is most clearly evident. For since the
principle of all the knowledge which the reason acquires
about a thing, is the understanding of that thing's essence,
because according to the Philosopher's teaching 1 the prin-
ciple of a demonstration is what a thing is, it follows that
our knowledge about a thing will be in proportion to our
understanding of its essence. Wherefore, if the human
intellect comprehends the essence of a particular thing, for
instance a stone or a triangle, no truth about that thing will
surpass the capability of human reason. But this does
not happen to us in relation to God, because the human
intellect is incapable by its natural power of attaining to
the comprehension of His essence : since our intellect's
knowledge, according to the mode of the present life,
originates from the senses : so that things which are not
objects of sense cannot be comprehended by the human
intellect, except in so far as knowledge of them is gathered
from sensibles. Now sensibles cannot lead our intellect
to see in them what God is, because they are effects un-
equal to the power of their cause. And yet our intellect is
led by sensibles to the divine knowledge so as to know
about God that He is, and other such truths, which need to
be ascribed to the first principle. Accordingly some divine
truths are attainable by human reason, while others alto-
gether surpass the power of human reason.
Again. The same is easy to see from the degrees of
intellects. For if one of two men perceives a thing with his
intellect with greater subtlety, the one whose intellect is of
a higher degree understands many things which the other
1 2 Anal. Post. iii. 9.
6 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
is altogether unable to grasp ; as instanced in a yokel who
is utterly incapable of grasping the subtleties of philo-
sophy. Now the angelic intellect surpasses the human
intellect more than the intellect of the cleverest philosopher
surpasses that of the most uncultured. For an angel
knows God through a more excellent effect than does man,
for as much as the angel's essence, through which he is
led to know God by natural knowledge, is more excellent
than sensible things, even than the soul itself, by which
the human intellect mounts to the knowledge of God. And
the divine intellect surpasses the angelic intellect much
more than the angelic surpasses the human. For the
divine intellect by its capacity equals the divine essence,
wherefore God perfectly understands of Himself what He
is, and He knows all things that can be understood about
Him : whereas the angel knows not what God is by his
natural knowledge, because the angel's essence, by which
he is led to the knowledge of God, is an effect unequal to
the power of its cause. Consequently an angel is unable
by his natural knowledge to grasp all that God understands
about Himself : nor again is human reason capable of
grasping all that an angel understands by his natural
power. Accordingly just as a man would show himself to
be a most insane fool if he declared the assertions of a
philosopher to be false because he was unable to under-
stand them, so, and much more, a man would be exceed-
ingly foolish, were he to suspect of falsehood the things
revealed by God through the ministry of His angels,
because they cannot be the object of reason's investigations.
Furthermore. The same is made abundantly clear by the
deficiency which every day we experience in our knowledge
of things. For we are ignorant of many of the properties
of sensible things, and in many cases we are unable to
discover the nature of those properties which we perceive
by our senses. Much less therefore is human reason
capable of investigating all the truths about that most sub-
With this the saying of the Philosopher is in accord
CHAPTER IV 7
(2 Metaph.) 1 where he says that our intellect in relation to
those primary things which are most evident in nature
is like the eye of a bat in relation to the sun.
To this truth Holy Writ also bears witness. For it is
written (Job xi. 7) : Per adventure thou wilt comprehend
the steps of God and wilt find out the Almighty perfectly?
and (xxxvi. 26) : Behold God is great, exceeding our know-
ledge, and (1 Cor. xiii. 9) : We know in part.
Therefore all that is said about God, though it cannot
be investigated by reason, must not be forthwith rejected
as false, as the Manicheans and many unbelievers have
THAT THE TRUTH ABOUT DIVINE THINGS WHICH IS ATTAIN-
ABLE BY REASON IS FITTINGLY PROPOSED TO MAN AS AN
OBJECT OF BELIEF
While then the truth of the intelligible things of God is
twofold, one to which the inquiry of reason can attain, the
other which surpasses the whole range of human reason,
both are fittingly proposed by God to man as an object of
belief. We must first show this with regard to that truth
which is attainable by the inquiry of reason, lest it appears
to some, that since it can be attained by reason, it was
useless to make it an object of faith by supernatural
inspiration. Now three disadvantages would result if this
truth were left solely to the inquiry of reason. jyOne is that
few men would have knowledge of God : because very
many are hindered from gathering the fruit of diligent
inquiry, which is the discovery of truth, for three reasons.
^Some indeed on account of an indisposition of tempera-
ment, by reason of which many are naturally indisposed
to knowledge : so that no efforts of theirs would enable
them to reach to the attainment of the highest degree of
human knowledge, which consists in knowing God. Some
1 D. ia. 1, 2. In future references D. stands for the Didot edition
of Aristotle's and Plato's works.
2 S. Aug., De utilit. credendi i. 2 ; Retract, xiv. 1.
8 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
are hindered by the needs of household affairs. For there
must needs be among men some that devote themselves to
the conduct of temporal affairs, who would be unable to
devote so much time to the leisure of contemplative re-
search as to reach the summit of human inquiry, namely the
knowledge of God. ^And some are hindered by laziness.
For in order to acquire the knowledge of God in those
things which reason is able to investigate, it is necessary to
have a previous knowledge of many things : since almost
the entire consideration of philosophy is directed to the
knowledge of God : for which reason metaphysics, which
is about divine things, is the last of the parts of philosophy
to be studied. Wherefore it is not possible to arrive at the
inquiry about the aforesaid truth except after a most
laborious study : and few are willing to take upon them-
selves this labour for the love of a knowledge, the.naiural
desire for which has nevertheless been instilled into the
mind of man by God.
The second disadvantage is that those who would arrive
at the discovery of the aforesaid truth would scarcely
succeed in doing so after a long time. First, because this
truth is so profound, that it is only after long practice that
the human intellect is enabled to grasp it by means of
reason. Secondly, because many things are required
beforehand, as stated above. Thirdly, because at the time
of youth, the mind, when tossed about by the various move-
ments of the passions, is not fit for the knowledge of so
sublime a truth, whereas calm gives prudence and know-
ledge, as stated in 7 Phys. 1 Hence mankind would remain
in the deepest darkness of ignorance, if the path of reason
were the only available way to the knowledge of God :
because the knowledge of God which especially makes men
perfect and good, would be acquired only by the few, and
by these only after a long time.
The third disadvantage is that much falsehood is mingled
with the investigations of human reason, on account of
the weakness of our intellect in forming its judgments, and
1 iii. 7.
CHAPTER V 9
by reason of the admixture of phantasms. Consequently
many would remain in doubt about those things even which
are most truly demonstrated, through ignoring the force of
the demonstration : especially when they perceive that
different things are taught by the various men who are
called wise. Moreover among the many demonstrated
truths, there is sometimes a mixture of falsehood that is not
demonstrated, but assumed for some probable or sophistical
reason which at times is mistaken for a demonstration.
Therefore it was necessary that definite certainty and pure
truth about divine things should be offered to man by the
way of faith.
Accordingly the divine clemency has made this salutary
commandment, that even some things which reason is able
to investigate must be held by faith : so that all may share
in the knowledge of God easily, and without doubt or error.
Hence it is written (Eph. iv. 17, 18) : That henceforward
you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of
their mind, having their understanding darkened: and
(Isa. liv. 13) : 'All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.
THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH CANNOT BE INVESTIGATED BY
REASON ARE FITTINGLY PROPOSED TO MAN AS AN OBJECT
It may appear to some that those things which cannot be
investigated by reason ought not to be proposed to man
as an object of faith : because divine wisdom provides for
each thing according to the mode of its nature. We must
therefore prove that it is -nece^sar^, also for those things
which surpass reason to be proposed by God to man as an
object of faith.
For no man tends to do a thing by his desire and en-
deavour unless it be previously known to him. Wherefore
since man is directed by divine providence to a higher
io THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
good than human frailty can attain in the present life, as
we shall show in the sequel, 1 it was necessary for his mind
to be bidden to something higher than those things to
which our reason can reach in the present life, so tjjalJie
might learn to aspire, and by his endeavours to tend to
something surpassing the whole state of the present life.
And this is especially competent to the Christian religion,
which alone promises goods spiritual and eternal : for
which reason it proposes jmany things surpassing the
\ J thought of man : w hereas (t , b^ <~>1H lawJ whic h co ntained
promises of temporal things, proposed few things that are
above human inquiry. It was with this motive that the
philosophers, in order to wean men from sensible pleasures
to virtue, took care to show that there are other goods of
greater account than those which appeal to the senses, the
taste of which things affords much greater delight to those
who devote themselves to active or contemplative virtues. '
Again it is necessary for this truth to be proposed to
man as an object of faith in order that he may have truer
knowledge of God. For then alone do we know God truly ,j
when we believe Chat He is far above all that man canl
possibly think of God, because the divine essence surpasses
man's natural knowledge, as stated above. 2 Hence by the
fact that certain things about God are proposed to man,
which surpass his reason, he is strengthened in his opinion
that God is far above what he is able to think.
There results also another.advantage from this, namely,
the checkin g of^presumpti on Which is the molhex-of-error.
For some there are who presume so far on their wits that
they think themselves capable of measuring the whole
nature of things by their intellect, in that they esteem all
things true which they see, and false which they see not.
Accordingly, in order that man's mind might be freed from
this presumption, and seek the truth- humbly, it was neces-
sary that certain things far surpassing his intellect should
be proposed to man by God.
--^Yet another advantage is made apparent by the words of
» Bk. III. 2 Ch. hi.
CHAPTER VI ii
the Philosopher (10 Ethic.). 1 For when a certain Simonides
maintained that man should neglect the knowledge of God,
and apply his mind to human affairs, and declared that a
man ought to relish human things, and a mortal, mortal
things: the Philosopher contradicted him, saying that a
man ought to devote himself to immortal and divine things
as much as he can. Hence he says (u De Animal.) 2 that
though it is but little that we perceive of higher substances,
yet that little is more loved and desired than all the know-
ledge we have of lower substances. He says also (2 De
Ccelo et Mundo) 3 that when questions about the heavenly
bodies can be answered by a short and probable solution,
it happens that the hearer is very much rejoiced. All this
shows that however imperfect the knowledge of the highest
things may be, it bestows very great perfection on the soul :
*-and consequently, although human reason is unable to
grasp fully things that are above reason, it nevertheless
acquires much perfection, if at least it hold things, in any
way whatever, by faith.
Wherefore it is written (Ecclus. iii. 25) : Many things
are shown to thee above the understanding of men, and
(1 Cor. ii. 10, 11) : The things . . . that are of God no man
knoweth, but the Spirit of God: but to us God hath revealed
them by His Spirit.
THAT IT IS NOT A MARK OF LEVITY TO ASSENT TO THE THINGS
THAT ARE OF FAITH, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE ABOVE REASON
Now those who believe this truth, of which reason affords
a proof, 4 " believe not lightly, as though following foolish 6
fables (2 Pet. i. 16). For divine Wisdom Himself, Who
knows all things most fully, deigned to reveal to man the
secrets of God's wisdom : 8 and by suitable arguments proves
1 vii. 8. 2 De Part. Animal, i. 5. 3 xii. 1.
4 S. Greg, the Great : Horn, in Ev. ii. 26.
5 Vulg., cunningly devised (doctas. S. Thomas read indoctas.).
6 Job xi. 6.
12 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
His presence, and the truth of His doctrine and inspiration,
by performing works surpassing the capability of the whole
of nature, namely, the wondrous healing of the sick, the
raising of the dead to life, a marvellous control over the
heavenly bodies, and what excites yet more wonder, the
inspiration of human minds, so that unlettered and simple
persons are filled with the Holy Ghost, and in one instant
are endowed with the most sublime wisdom and eloquence.
And after considering these arguments, convinced by the \
strength of the proof, and not by the force of arms, nor by f
the promise of delights, but — and this is the greatest marvel
of all — amidst the tyranny of persecutions, a countless
crowd of not only simple but also of the wisest men,
embraced the Christian faith, which inculcates things sur-
passing all human understanding, curbs the pleasures of
the flesh, and teaches contempt of all worldly things, ^ That
the minds of mortal beings should assent to such things, is
both the greatest of miracles, and the evident work of divine
inspiration, seeing that they despise visible things and
desire only those that are invisible. And that this hap-
pened not suddenly nor by chance, but by the disposition
of God, is shown by the fact that God foretold that He
would do so by the manifold oracles of the prophets, whose
books we hold in veneration as bearing witness to our faith.
This particular kind of proof is alluded to in the words of
Heb. ii. 3, 4: Which, namely the salvation of mankind,
having begun to be declared by the Lord, was confirmed
with us by them that heard Him, God also bearing witness
by signs and wonders, and divers 1 . . . distributions of
the Holy Ghost.
Now such a wondrous conversion of the world to the
Christian faith is a most indubitable proof that such signs
did take place, so that there is no need to repeat them,
seeing that there is evidence of them in their result. For
it would be the most wondrous sign of all if without any
wondrous signs the world were persuaded by simple and
lowly men to believe things so arduous, to accomplish
1 Vulg., divers miracles and distributions . . .
CHAPTER VI 13
things so difficult, and to hope for things so sublime.
Although God ceases not even in our time to work miracles
through His saints in confirmation of the faith. *
On the other hand those who introduced the errors of , \$f]S
the sects proceeded in contrary fashion, as instanced by \r-
Mohammed, who enticed peoples with the promise of carnal
pleasures, to the desire of which the concupiscence of the
flesh instigates. He also delivered commandments in
keeping with his promises, by giving the reins to carnal
pleasure, wherein it is easy for carnal men to obey : and
the lessons of truth which he inculcated were only such as
can be easily known to any man of average wisdom by his
natural powers : yea rather the truths which he taught were
mingled by him with many fables and most false doctrines.
Nor did he add any signs of supernatural agency, which
alone are a fitting witness to divine inspiration, since a
visible work that can be from God alone, proves the teacher
of truth to be invisibly inspired : but he asserted that he
was se nt in the power of arms, a sign that is not lacking
even to robbers and tyrants. Again, those who believed
in him from the outset were not wise men practised in
things divine and human, but beastlike men who dwelt in
the wilds, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching ; and it
was by a multitude of such men and the force of arms that
he compelled others to submit to his law.
^Lastly, no divine oracles of prophets in a previous age
bore witness to him ; rather did he corrupt almost all the
teaching of the Old and New Testaments by a narrative
replete with fables, as one may see by a perusal of his law.
Hence by a cunning device, he did not commit the reading
of the Old and New Testament Books to his followers, lest
he should thereby be convicted of falsehood. Thus it is
evident that those who believe his words believe lightly.
i 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT THE TRUTH OF REASON IS NOT IN OPPOSITION TO THE
TRUTH OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Now though the aforesaid truth of the Christian faith
surpasses the ability of human reason, nevertheless those
things which are naturally instilled in human reason can-
not be opposed to this truth. For it is clear that those
things which are implanted in reason by nature, are most
true, so- much so that it is impossible to think them to be
false/ Nor is it lawful to deem false that which is held by
faitn, since it is so evidently confirmed by God. Seeing
then that the false alone is opposed to the true, as evidently
appears if we examine their definitions, it is impossible for
the aforesaid truth of faith to be contrary to those principles
which reason knows naturally.
Again. The same thing which the disciple's mind receives
from its teacher is contained in the knowledge of the
teacher, unless he teach insincerely, which it were wicked
to say of God. Now the knowledge of naturally known
principles is instilled into us by God, since God Himself is
the author of our nature. Therefore the divine Wisdom also
contains these principles. Consequently whatever is con-
trary to these principles, is contrary to the divine Wisdom ;
wherefore it cannot be from God. Therefore those things
which are received by faith from divine revelation cannot
be contrary to our natural knowledge.
Moreover. Our intellect is stayed by contrary arguments,
so that it cannot advance to the knowledge of truth.
Wherefore if conflicting knowledges were instilled into
us by God, our intellect would thereby be hindered from
knowing the truth. And this cannot be ascribed to God.
Furthermore. Things that are natural are unchangeable
so long as nature remains. Now contrary opinions cannot
be together in the same subject. Therefore God does not
instil into man any opinion or belief contrary to natural
CHAPTER VIII 15
Hence the Apostle says (Rom. x. 8) : The word is nigh
thee even in thy heart and in thy mouth. This is the word
of faith which we preach. Yet because it surpasses reason
some look upon it as though it were contrary thereto;
which is impossible.
This is confirmed also by the authority of Augustine
who says (Gen. ad lit. ii) : s That which truth shall make
known can nowise be in opposition to the holy books
whether of the Old or of the New Testament.
From this we may evidently conclude that whatever
arguments are alleged against the teachings of faith, they
do not rightly proceed from the first self-evident principles
instilled by nature. Wherefore they lack the force of
demonstration, and are either probable or sophistical argu-
ments, and consequently it is possible to solve them.
IN WHAT RELATION HUMAN REASON STANDS TO THE TRUTH OF
It would also seem well to observe that sensible things from
which human reason derives the source of its knowledge,
retain a certain trace of likeness to God, but so imperfect
that it proves altogether inadequate to manifest the sub-
stance itself of God. For effects resemble their causes
according to tjheir own mode, since like action proceeds
from like agent ; and yet the effect does not always reach to
a perfect likeness to the agent. Accordingly human reason
is adapted to the knowledge of the truth of faith, which can
be known in the highest degree only by those who see the
divine substance, in so far as it is able to put together certain
probable arguments in support thereof, which nevertheless
are insufficient to enable us to understand the aforesaid
truth as though it were demonstrated to us or understood
by us in itself. And yet however weak these arguments
1 Ch. xviii.
16 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
may be, it is useful for the human mind to be practised
therein, so long as it does not pride itselT on having com-
prehended or demonstrated : since although our view of the
sublimest things is limited and weak, it is most pleasant to
be able to catch but a glimpse of them, as appears from
what has been said. 1
The authority of Hilary is in agreement with this state-
ment : for he says (De Trin.) 2 while speaking of this same
truth : Begin by believing these things, advance and
persevere; and though I know thou wilt not arrive, I shall
rejoice at thy advance. For he who devoutly follows in
pursuit of the infinite, though he never come up with it,
will always advance by setting forth. Yet pry not into that
secret, and meddle not in the mystery of the birth of the
infinite, 3 nor presume to grasp that which is the summit
of understanding : but understand that there are things thou
canst not grasp.
OF THE ORDER AND MODE OF PROCEDURE IN THIS WORK
Accordingly, from what we have been saying it is evident
that the intention of the wise man must be directed to the
twofold truth of divine things and to the refutation of con-
trary errors : and that the research of reason is able to reach
to one of these, while the other surpasses every effort of
reason. And I speak of a twofold truth of divine things,
not on the part of God Himself Who is Truth one and
simple, but on the part of our knowledge, the relation of
which to the knowledge of divine things varies.
Wherefore in order to deduce the first kind of truth we
must proceed by demonstrative arguments whereby we can
convince our adversaries. But since such arguments are
not available in support of the second kind of truth, our
intention must be not to convince our opponent by our
1 Ch. v. a ii. 10, ii.
3 Interminabilis. S. Hilary wrote inopinabilis — i.e., of that which
surpasses our ken.
CHAPTER IX 17
arguments, but to solve the arguments which he brings
against the truth, because, as shown above, 1 natural reason
cannot be opposed to the truth of faith. In a special way
may the opponent of this kind of truth be convinced by the
authority of Scripture confirmed by God with miracles :
since we believe not what is above human reason save
because God has revealed it. In support, however, of this
kind of truth, certain probable argument^ must be adduced
for the practice and help of the faithful/ but not for the
conviction of our opponents, because the very insufficiency
of these arguments would rather confirm them in their
error, if they thought that we assented to the truth of faith
on account of such weak reasonings. _______
With the intention then of proceeding in the manner laid
down, we shall first of all endeavour to declare that truth
which is the object of faith's confession and of reason's
researches, by adducing arguments both, demonstrativejand
probable,) some of which we have gathered from the writ-
ings of the philosophers and of holy men, so as ^hereby to
confirm the truth and convince our opponents. /After this,
so as to proceed from the more to the less manifest, we shall
with God's help proceed to declare that truth which sur-
passes reason, by refuting the arguments of our opponents,
and by setting forth the truth of faith by means of probable
arguments and authority. 2 /
Seeing then that we intend by the way of reason to pursue
those things about God which human reason is able to
investigate, the first object that offers itself to our considera-
tion consists in those things which pertain to God in Him-
self /the second 3 will be the procession of creatures from
Hrm /and the third 4 the relation of creatures to Him as
their end. /Of those things which we need to consider sV v-^"*
about Goa in Himself, we must give the first place (this
being the necessary foundation of the whole of this work),
to the question of demonstrating that there is a God : for
unless this be established, all questions about divine things
are out of court.
1 Ch. vii. 2 Bk IVf 3 Rk> n . 4 Rk m
18 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
OF THE OPINION OF THOSE WHO AVER THAT IT CANNOT BE
DEMONSTRATED THAT THERE IS A GOD, SINCE THIS IS
Possibly it will seem to some that it is useless to endeavour
to show that there is a God : they say that it is self-evident
that God is, so that it is impossible to think the contrary,
and thus it cannot be demonstrated that there is a God.
The reasons for this view are as follow. Those things
are said to be self-evident which are known as soon as the
terms are known : thus as soon as it is known what is a
whole, and what is a part, it is known that the whole is
greater than its part. Now such is the statement God is.
For by this word God we understand a thing a greater than
jLtv* "Which cannot be thought of : this is what a man conceives
in.hjs mind when he hears and understands this word God:
s o that God mu st already be at least in his mind. Nor can
He be in thejrnind alone, for that which is both in the mind
and in reality is greater than that which is in the mind
only. AncLn hfi very signification of the word shows that
nothing is greater than God. Wherefore it follows that it
is self-evident that God is, since it is made clear from the
very signification of the word.
Again. It is possible to think that there is a thing which
cannot be thought not to exist : and such a thing is evi-
dently greater than that which can be tho ught not to exist.
Therefore if God can be thought not to exist, it follows that
someTTirrrg- can be thought greater than God : and this is
contrary to the signification of the term. Therefore it
remains that it is self-evident that God is.
^Further. Those propositions are most evident in which
the selfsame thing is predicated of itself, for instance : Man
is man; or wherein the predicate is included in the defini-
tion of the subject, for instance : Man is an animal. Now,
as we shall show further on, 1 in God alone do we find that
1 Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XI 19
His being is His essence, as though the same were the
answer to the question, What is He? as to the question, Is
He? Accordingly when we say, God is, the predicate is
either identified with the subject, or at least is included in
the definition of the subject. And thus it will be self-
evident that God is.
Moreover. Things that are known naturally are self-
evident, for it is not by a process of research that they
become evident. Now it is naturally known that God is,
since man's desire tends naturally to God as his last end,
as we shall show further on. 1 Therefore it is self-evident
that God is.
Again. That whereby all things are known must needs
be self-evident. Now such is God. For just as the light
of the sun is the principle of all visual perception, so the
divine light is the principle of all intellectual knowledge,
because it is therein that first and foremost intellectual light
is to be found. Therefore it must needs be self-evident that
On account of these and like arguments some are of
opinion that it is so self-evident that God is, that it is
impossible for the mind to think the contrary.
REFUTATION OF THE FOREGOING OPINION AND SOLUTION OF
THE AFORESAID ARGUMENTS
The foregoing opinion arose from their being accustomed
from the beginning to hear and call upon the name of
God. Now custom, especially if it date from our child-
hood, acquires the force of nature, the result being that the
mind holds those things with which it was imbued from
childhood as firmly as though they were self-evident/^ It
is also a result of failing to distinguish between what_ is
self-evident simply, and that which is self-evident to us.
1 Bk. III., ch. xxv.
20 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
For it is simply self-evident that God is, because the self-
same thing which God is, is His existence. But since we
are unable to conceive mentally the selfsame thing which
is God, that thing remains unknown in regard to us. Thus
it is self-evident simply that every whole is greater than its
part, but to one who fails to conceive mentally the meaning
of a whole, it must needs be unknown. Hence it is that
those things which are most evident of all are to the intellect
what the sun is to the eye of an owl, as stated in Metaph. ii. 1
Nor does it follow, as the^rst argument alleged, that as
soon as the meaning of the word God is understood, it is
known that God is. First, because it is not known to all,
even .to those who grant that there is a God, that God is
that tiling than which no greater can be thought of, since
many of the ancients asserted that this world is God. Nor
can any such conclusion be gathered from the significations
which Damascene 2 assigns to this word God. /Secondly
because, granted that everyone understands this word God
to signify something than which a greater cannot be
thought of, it does not follow that something than which a
greater cannot be thought of exists in reality. For we must
needs allege a thing in the same way as we allege the signi-
fication of its name. Now from the fact that we conceive
mentally that which the word God is intended to convey, it
do es no t follow that God is otherwise than in the mind.
\/Vn l e J f!lore neither will it follow that the thing than which
a greater cannot be thought of is otherwise than in the
mind. And thence it does not follow that there exists in
reality something than which a greater cannot be thought
of. Hence this is no argument against those who assert
that there is no God, since whatever be granted to exist,
whether in reality or in the mind, there is nothing to prevent
a person from thinking of something greater, unless he
grants that there is in reality something than which a
greater cannot be thought of.
Again it does not follow, as the second argument pre-
tended, that if it is possible to think that God is not, it
1 D. la. 1,2. 2 Dc Fid. Orih. i. 9.
CHAPTER XII 21
is possible to think of something greater than God. For
that it be possible to think that He is not, is not on account
of the imperfection of His being or the uncertainty thereof,
since in itself His being is supremely manifest, but is the
result of the weakness of our mind which is able to see Him,
not in Himself but in His effects, so that it is led by reason-
ing to know that He is.
Wherefore the third argument also is solved. For just
as it is self-evident to us that a whole is greater than its
part, so is it most evident to those who see the very essence
of God that God exists, since His essence is His existence.
But because we are unable to see His essence, we come to
know His existence not in Himself but in His effects.
The solution to the fourth argument is also clear. For
man knows God naturally in the same way as he desires
^ Him naturally. Now man desires Him naturally in so far \ ,
as he naturally desires happiness, which is a likeness of the
divine goodness. Hence it does not follow that God con-
sidered in Himself is naturally known to man, but that His
likeness is. Wherefore man must needs come by reason-
ing to know God in the likenesses to Him which he dis-
covers in God's effects.
It is also easy to reply to the fifth argument. For God
is that in which all things are known, not so that other
things be unknown except He be known, as happens in self-
evident principles, but because all knowledge is caused in
us by His outpouring.
OF THE OPINION OF THOSE WHO SAY THAT THE EXISTENCE OF
GOD CANNOT BE PROVED, AND THAT IT IS HELD BY FAITH
The position that we have taken is also assailed by the
opinion of certain others, whereby the efforts of those who
endeavour to prove that there is a God would again be
rendered futile. For they say that it is impossible by
22 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
means of the reason to discover that God exists, and that
this knowledge is acquired solely by means of faith and
In making this assertion some were moved by the weak-
ness of the arguments which certain people employed to
prove the existence of God.
Possibly, however, this error might falsely seek support
from the statements of certain philosophers, who show that
in God essence and existence are the same, namely that
which answers to the question, What is He? and that which
answers to the question, Is He? Now it is impossible by
the process of reason to acquire the knowledge of what God
is. Wherefore seemingly neither is it possible to prove by
reason whether God is.
Again. If, as required by the system of the Philoso-
pher, 1 in order to prove whether a thing is we must take as
principle the signification of its name, and since according
to the Philosopher (4 Metaph.) 2 the signification of a name
is its definition: there will remain no means of proving the
existence of God, seeing that we lack knowledge of the
divine essence or quiddity.
Again. If the principles of demonstration become
known to us originally through the senses, as is proved in
the Posterior Analytics, 3 those things which transcend all
sense and sensible objects are seemingly indemonstrable.
Now such is the existence of God. Therefore it cannot be '
The falseness of this opinion is shown to us first by the
art of demonstration, which teaches us to conclude causes
from effects. / Secondly, by the order itself of sciences : for
if no substance above sensible substance can be an object of
science, there will be no science above Physics, as stated in
4 Metaph.' 1 Thirdly, by the efforts of the philosophers who
have endeavoured to prove the existence of God. Fourthly,
by the apostolic truth which asserts (Rom. i. 20) that the
invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood
by the things that are made.
1 2 Poster, ix. i. 2 D. 3. iii. 4. 3 1. xviii. * D. 3. vii. 9.
CHAPTER XIII 23
Nor should we be moved by the consideration that in God
essence and existence are the same, as the first argument
contended. For this is to be understood of the existence by
which God subsists in Himself, of which we are ignorant as
to what kind of a thing it is, even as we are ignorant of His
essence. But it is not to be understood of that existence
which is signified by the composition of the mind. For in
this way it is possible to prove the existence of God, when
our mind is led by demonstrative arguments to form a
proposition stating that God is.
Moreover. In those arguments whereby we prove the
existence of God, it is not necessary that the divine essence
or quiddity be employed as the middle term, as the second
argument supposed : but instead of the quiddity we take His
effects as middle term, as is the case in a posteriori reason-
ing : and from these effects we take the signification of this
word God. For all the divine names are taken either from
the remoteness of God's effects from Himself, or from some
relationship between God and His effects.
It is also evident from the fact that, although God
transcends all sensibles and senses, His effects from which
we take the proof that God exists, are sensible objects.
Hence our knowledge, even of things which transcend the
senses, originates from the senses.
CHAPTER XIII ^fil^fjfi
" 1 mi
ARGUMENTS IN PROOF OF GOD'S EXISTENCE ' v **
Having shown then that it is not futile to endeavour to
prove the existence of God, we may proceed to set forth the
reasons whereby both philosophers and Catholic doctors
have proved that there is a God. In the first place we shall
give the arguments by which Aristotle sets out to prove
God's existence : and he aims at proving this from the
point of view of movement, in two ways.
The first way is as follows. 1 Whatever is in motion is
1 7 Phys. i.
24 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
moved by another : and it is clear to the sense that something,
the sun for instance, is in motion. Therefore it is set in
motion by something else moving it. Now that which moves
it is itself either moved or not. If it be not moved, then the
point is proved that we must needs postulate an immovable
mover : and this we call God. If, however, it be moved, it
is moved by another mover. Either, therefore, we must
proceed to infinity, or we must come to an immovable
mover. But it is not possible to proceed to infinity. There-
fore it is necessary to postulate an immovable mover.
This argument contains two propositions that need to be
proved : namely that whatever is in motion is moved by
another, and that it is not possible to proceed to infinity in
movers and things moved.
The first of these is proved by the Philosopher in three
ways. First, thus. If a thing moves itself, it must needs
have the principle of its movement in itself, else it would
clearly be moved by another. Again it must be moved
primarily, that is, it must be moved by reason of itself and
not by reason of its part, as an animal is moved by the
movement of its foot, for in the latter way not the whole but
the part would be moved by itself, and one part by another.
Again it must be divisible and have parts, since whatever
is moved is divisible, as is proved in 6 Phys. 1
These things being supposed, he argues as follows. That
which is stated to be moved by itself is moved primarily.
Therefore if one of its parts is at rest, it follows that the
whole is at rest. For if, while one part is at rest, another
of its parts were in motion, the whole itself would not be
moved primarily, but its part which is in motion while
another is at rest. Now nothing that is at rest while
another is at rest, is moved by itself : for that which is at
rest as a result of another thing being at rest must needs
be in motion as a result of the other's motion, and hence it
is not moved by itself. Hence that which was stated to be
moved by itself, is not moved by itself. Therefore what-
ever is in motion must needs be moved by another.
1 Ch. iv.
CHAPTER XIII 25
Nor is this argument traversed by the statement that
might be made, that supposing a thing moves itself, it is
impossible for a part thereof to be at rest, or again by the
statement that to be at rest or in motion does not belong to
a part except accidentally, as Avicenna quibbles. 1 Because
the force of the argument lies in this, that if a thing moves
itself primarily and of itself, not by reason of its parts, it
follows that its being moved does not depend on some
thing; whereas with a divisible thing, being moved, like
being, depends on its parts, so that it cannot move itself
primarily and of itself. Therefore the truth of the conclu-
sion drawn does not require that we suppose as an absolute
truth that a part of that which moves itself is at rest, but
that this conditional statement be true that if a part were at
rest, the whole would be at rest. Which statement can be
true even if the antecedent be false, even as this conditional
proposition is true : // a man is an ass he is irrational.
Secondly, 2 he proves it by induction, thus. A thing is
not moved by itself if it is moved accidentally, since its
motion is occasioned by the motion of something else.
Nor again if it is moved by force, as is manifest. Nor if it
is moved by its nature like those things whose movement
proceeds from themselves, such as animals, which clearly
are moved by their souls. Nor if it is moved by nature, as
heavy and light things are, since these are moved by their
generating cause and by that which removes the obstacle
to their movement. Now whatsoever things are in motion
are moved either per se or accidentally; and if per se, either
by force or by nature : and if the latter, either by something
in them, as in the case of animals, or not by something in
them, as in the case of heavy and light bodies. Therefore
whatever is in motion is moved by another.
Thirdly, 3 he proves his point thus. Nothing is at the
same time in act and in potentiality in respect of the same
thing. Now whatever is in motion, as such, is in poten-
tiality, because motion is the act of that which is in poten-
1 2 Suffic. i. 2 8 Phys. iv.
3 8 Phys. v. 8.
26 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
tiality, as such. 1 Whereas whatever moves, as such, is in
act, for nothing acts except in so far as it is in act. There-
fore nothing is both mover and moved in respect of the
same movement. Hence nothing moves itself.
We must observe, however, that Plato, 2 who asserted
that every mover is moved, employed the term movement
in a more general sense than Aristotle. For Aristotle took
movement in its strict sense, for the act of a thing that is
in potentiality as such, in which sense it applies only to
divisible things and bodies, as is proved in 6 Phys. 3
Whereas according to Plato that which moves itself is not
a body; for he took movement for any operation, so that
to understand or to think is a kind of movement, to which
manner of speaking Aristotle alludes in 3 De Animal In
this sense, then, he said that the first mover moves itself,
in as much as it understands, desires and loves itself.
This, in a certain respect, is not in contradiction with the
arguments of Aristotle; for it makes no difference whether
with Plato we come to a first mover that moves itself, or
with Aristotle to something first which is altogether
He proves the other proposition, namely that it is impos-
sible to proceed to infinity in movers and things moved,
by three arguments.
The first 5 of these is as follows. If one were to proceed
to infinity in movers and things moved, all this infinite
number of things would necessarily be bodies, since what-
ever is moved is divisible and corporeal, as is proved in
6 Phys. 6 Now every body that moves through being moved
is moved at the same time as it moves. Therefore all this
infinite number of things are moved at the same time as
one of them is moved. But one of them, since it is finite,
is moved in a finite time. Therefore all this infinite
number of things are moved in a finite time. But this is
impossible. Therefore it is impossible to proceed to
infinity in movers and things moved.
1 3 Phys. i. 6. 2 Phadrus § xxiv. (D.). 3 L.c
* Ch. vii. 6 7 Phys., l.c. 6 L.c.
CHAPTER XIII 27
That it is impossible for the aforesaid infinite number of
things to be moved in a finite time, he proves thus. 1 Mover
and moved must needs be simultaneous ; and he proves
this by induction from each species of movement. But
bodies cannot be simultaneous except by continuity or con-
tact. Wherefore since all the aforesaid movers and things
moved are bodies, as proved, they must needs be as one
movable thing through their continuity or contact. And
thus one infinite thing would be moved in a finite time,
which is shown to be impossible in 6 Phys. 2
The second argument 3 in proof of the same statement is
as follows. In an ordinate series of movers and things
moved, where namely throughout the series one is moved
by the other, we must needs find that if the first mover be
taken away or cease to move, none of the others will move '
or be moved : because the first is the cause of movement in
all the others. Now if an ordinate series of movers and_/ -
things moved proceed to infinity, there will be no first 1<^ C
mover, but all will be intermediate movers as it were.
Therefore it will be impossible for any of them to be
moved : and thus nothing in the world will be moved.
The third argument* amounts to the same, except that it
proceeds in the reverse order, namely by beginning from
above : and it is as follows. That which moves instru-
mentally, cannot move unless there be something that
moves principally. But if we proceed to infinity in movers <• •
and things moved, they will all be like instrumental movers, ;
because they will be alleged to be moved movers, and there
will be nothing by way of principal mover. Therefore
nothing will be moved.
We have thus clearly proved both statements which were
supposed in the first process of demonstration whereby
Aristotle proved the existence of a first immovable mover.
The second 5 way is as follows. If every mover is
moved, this statement is true either in itself or accidentally
If accidentally, it follows that it is not necessary : for that
which is accidentally true is not necessary. Therefore it is
1 7 Phys. i. ii. 2 Ch. vii. 3 8 Phys. v. 4 Ibid.
28 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
a contingent proposition that no mover is moved. But if
a mover be not moved, it does not move, as the opponent
asserts. Therefore it is contingent that nothing is moved,
since, if nothing moves, nothing is moved. Now Aristotle
holds this to be impossible, 1 namely, that at any time there
be no movement. Therefore the first proposition was not
contingent, because a false impossibility does not follow
from a false contingency. And therefore this proposition,
Every mover is moved by another, was not accidentally true.
Again, if any two things are found accidentally united
in a certain subject, and one of them is to be found without
the other, it is probable that the latter can be found without
the former : thus if white and musical are found in Socrates,
and musical without white is found in Plato, it is probable
that it is possible to find white without musical in some
subject. Accordingly if mover and moved be united
together in some subject accidentally, and it be found that
a certain thing is moved without its being a mover, it is
probable that a mover is to be found that is not moved.
Nor can one urge against this the case of two things one
of which depends on the other; because those in question
are united not per se but accidentally. If, however, the
aforesaid proposition is true in itself, again there follows
something impossible or unfitting. For the mover must
needs be moved either by the same kind of movement or
by another kind. If by the same kind, it follows that what-
ever causes alteration must itself be altered, and further-
more that the healer must be healed, that the teacher must
be taught, and in respect of the same science. But this is
impossible : for the teacher must needs have science, while
the learner must needs not have it, and thus the same will
be both possessed and not possessed by the same, which is
impossible. And if it be moved by another kind of move-
ment, so that, to wit, that which causes alteration be moved
in respect of place, and that which moves in respect of place
be increased, and so on, it will follow that we cannot go on
indefinitely, since the genera and species of movement are
1 8 Phys. i.
CHAPTER XIII 29
finite in number. And thus there will be some first mover
that is not moved by another. Unless, perchance, some-
one say that a recurrence takes place, in this way, that when
all the genera and species of movement have been ex-
hausted, a return must be made to the first ; for instance,
if that which moves in respect of place be altered, and that
which causes alteration be increased, then again that which
is increased be moved in respect of place. But the conse-
quence of this will be the same as before ; namely, that
which moves by one kind of movement is itself moved by
the same kind, not immediately indeed but mediately. It
remains therefore that we must needs postulate some first
mover that is not moved by anything outside itself.
Since however, given that there is a first mover that is
not moved by anything outside itself, it does not follow
that it is absolutely immovable, Aristotle proceeds further,
saying that this may happen in two ways. First, so that
this first mover is absolutely immovable. And if this be
granted, our point is established, namely that there is a
first immovable mover. Secondly, that this first mover is
moved by itself. And this seems probable : because what
is of itself is always prior to what is of another : wherefore
also in things moved, it is logical that what is moved first
is moved by itself and not by another.
But, if this be granted, the same consequence follows. 1
For it cannot be said that the whole of that which moves
itself is moved by its whole self, because then the absurd
consequences mentioned above would follow, namely that
a person might teach and be taught at the same time, and
in like manner as to other kinds of movement ; and again
that a thing would be at the same time in act and in poten-
tiality, since a mover, as such, is in act, while that which
is moved is in potentiality. It remains, therefore, that one
part thereof is mover only, and the other part moved. And
thus we have the same conclusion as before, namely that
there is something that moves and is itself immovable.
And it cannot be said that both parts are moved, so that
1 8 Phys., I.e.
30 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
one is moved by the other ; nor that one part moves both
itself and the other ; nor that the whole moves a part ; nor
that part moves the whole, since the above absurdities
would follow, namely that something would both move and
be moved by the same kind of movement, and that it would
be at the same time in potentiality and in act, and more-
over that the whole would move itself not primarily but by
reason of its part. It remains, therefore, that in that which
moves itself, one part must be immovable, and must move
the other part.
Since, however, in those things among us which move
themselves, namely animals, the part which moves, namely
the soul, though immovable of itself, is nevertheless moved
accidentally, he goes on to show that in the first mover, the
part which moves is not moved neither of itself nor
For in those things which among us move themselves,
namely animals, since they are corruptible, the part which
moves is moved accidentally. Now those corruptible
things which move themselves must needs be reducible to
some first self-mover that is everlasting. Therefore that
which moves itself must have a mover, which is moved
neither of itself nor accidentally.
It is clear that, in accordance with his hypothesis, some
self-mover must be everlasting. For if, as he supposes,
movement is everlasting, the production of these self-
movers that are subject to generation and corruption must
be everlasting. But no one of these self-movers, since it
does not always exist, can be the cause of this everlasting-
ness. Nor can all of them together, both because they
would be infinite, and because they do not exist all together.
It follows therefore that there must be an everlasting self-
mover, that causes the everlastingness of generation in
these lower self-movers. And thus its mover is not moved,
neither of itself nor accidentally. Again, we observe that
in self-movers some begin to be moved anew on account of
some movement whereby the animal is not moved by itself,
1 8 Phys. vi.
CHAPTER XIII 31
for instance by the digestion of food or a change in the
atmosphere : by which movement the mover that moves
itself is moved accidentally. Whence we may gather that
no self-mover, whose mover is moved per se or accidentally,
is always moved. But the first self-mover is always in
motion, else movement could not be everlasting, since
every other movement is caused by the movement of the
first self-mover. It follows therefore that the first self-
mover is moved by a mover who .is not moved, neither per
se nor accidentally.
Nor is this argument rebutted by the fact that the movers
of the lower spheres cause an everlasting movement, and
yet are said to be moved accidentally. For they are said
to be moved accidentally not by reason of themselves, but
by reason of the things subject to their motion, which
follow the motion of the higher sphere.
Since, however, God is not part of a self-mover, Aristotle
goes on in his Metaphysics 1 to trace from this motor that
is part of a self-mover, another mover altogether separate,
which is God. For since every self-mover is moved
through its appetite, it follows that the motor that is part
of a self-mover, moves on account of the appetite for some
appetible object. And this object is above the motor in
moving, because the appetent is a moved mover, whereas
the appetible is a mover altogether unmoved. Therefore
there must needs be a first mover separate and altogether
immovable, and this is God.
Now two things would seem to weaken the above argu-
ments. The first of these is that they proceed from the
supposition of the eternity of movement, and among
Catholics this is supposed to be false. To this we reply
that the most effective way to prove God's existence is from
the supposition of the eternity of the world, which being
supposed, it seems less manifest that God exists. For if
the world and movement had a beginning, it is clear that
we must suppose some cause to have produced the world
and movement, because whatever becomes anew must take
1 D. 11. vii.
32 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
its origin from some cause of its becoming, since nothing
evolves itself from potentiality to act, or from non-being
The second is that the aforesaid arguments suppose that
the first moved thing, namely the heavenly body, has its
motive principle in itself, whence it follows that it is
animated : and by many this is not granted.
To this we reply that if the first mover is not supposed
to have its motive principle in itself, it follows that it is
immediately moved by something altogether immovable.
Hence also Aristotle draws this conclusion with an alterna-
tive, namely that either we must come at once to a first
mover immovable and separate, or to a self-mover from
which again we come to a first mover immovable and
The Philosopher proceeds in a different way in 2 Mctaph.
to show that it is impossible to proceed to infinity in
efficient causes, and that we must come to one first cause,
and this we call God. This is how he proceeds. In all
efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of
the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of
the ultimate, whether the intermediate be one or several.
Now if the cause be removed, that which it causes is
removed. Therefore if we remove the first the inter-
mediate cannot be a cause. But if we go on to infinity in
efficient causes, no cause will be first. Therefore all the
others which are intermediate will be removed. Now this
is clearly false. Therefore we must suppose the existence
of a first efficient cause: and this is God.
Another reason can be drawn from the words of Aristotle.
For in 2 Metaph. 2 he shows that those things which excel
as true excel as beings : and in 4 Metaph. 3 he shows that
there is something supremely true, from the fact that we
see that of two false things one is falser than the other,
wherefore it follows that one also is truer than the other.
Now this is by reason of approximation to that which is
simply and supremely true. Wherefore we may further
1 8 Phys. v. 12. a D. la. i. 5. 3 D. 3. iv. 27, 28.
CHAPTER XIV 33
conclude that there is something that is supremely being.
And this we call God.
Another argument in support of this conclusion is
adduced by Damascene 1 from the government of things :
and the same reasoning is indicated by the Commentator
in 2 Phys. 2 It runs as follows. It is impossible for con-
trary and discordant things to accord in one order always
or frequently except by someone's governance, whereby
each and all are made to tend to a definite end. Now we
see that in the world things of different natures accord in
one order, not seldom and fortuitously, but always or for
the most part. Therefore it follows that there is someone
by whose providence the world is governed. And this we
THAT IN ORDER TO ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IT IS NECES-
SARY TO PROCEED BY THE WAY OF REMOTION
Accordingly having proved that there is a first being
which we call God, it behoves us to inquire into His nature.
Now in treating of the divine essence the principal
method to be followed is that of remotion. For the divine
essence by its immensity surpasses every form to which
our intellect reaches; and thus we cannot apprehend it by
knowing what it is. But we have some knowledge thereof
by knowing what it is not: and we shall approach all the
nearer to the knowledge thereof according as we shall be
enabled to remove by our intellect a greater number of
things therefrom. For the more completely we see how a
thing differs from others, the more perfectly we know it :
since each thing has in itself its own being distinct from all
other things. Wherefore when we know the definition of
a thing, first we place it in a genus, whereby we know in
general what it is, and afterwards we add differences, so as
to mark its distinction from other things : and thus we
arrive at the complete knowledge of a thing's essence.
) l De Fide Orth. i. 3. 2 Text 75.
34 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Since, however, we are unable in treating of the divine
essence to take what as a genus, nor can we express its dis-
tinction from other things by affirmative differences, we
must needs express it by negative differences. Now just as
in affirmative differences one restricts another, and brings
us the nearer to a complete description of the thing,
according as it makes it to differ from more things, so one
negative difference is restricted by another that marks a
distinction from more things. Thus, if we say that God
is not an accident, we thereby distinguish Him from all
accidents ; then if we add that He is not a body, we shall
distinguish Him also from certain substances, and thus in
gradation He will be differentiated by suchlike negations
from all beside Himself : and then when He is known as
distinct from all things, we shall arrive at a proper con-
sideration of Him. It will not, however, be perfect, be-
cause we shall not know what He is in Himself.
Wherefore in order to proceed about the knowledge of
God by the way of remotion, let us take as principle that
which is already made manifest by what we have said
above, 1 namely that God is altogether unchangeable. This
is also confirmed by the authority of Holy Writ. For it
is said (Malach. iii. 6) : / am God (Vulg., the Lord) and I
change not; (James i. 17) : With Whom there is no change ;
and (Num. xxiii. 19) : God is not as a man . . . that He
should be changed.
THAT GOD IS ETERNAL
From the foregoing it is also clear that God is eternal.
For whatever begins or ceases to be, suffers this through
movement or change. Now it has been shown 2 that God
is altogether unchangeable. Therefore He is eternal,
having neither beginning nor end.
Again. Only things which are moved are measured by
1 Ch. xiii. 2 Ibid.
CHAPTER XV 35
time : because time is the measure of movement, as stated
in 4 Phys. 1 Now God is absolutely without movement,
as we have already proved. 2 Therefore we cannot mark
before and after in Him. Therefore in Him there is not
being after non-being, nor can He have non-being after
being, nor is it possible to find any succession in His
being, because these things cannot be understood apart
from time. Therefore He is without beginning and end,
and has all His being simultaneously : and in this consists
the notion of eternity. 3
Moreover. If anywhen He was not and afterwards was,
He was brought by someone out of non-being into being.
Not by Himself ; because what is not cannot do anything.
And if by another, this other is prior to Him. Now it ihas
been shown 4 that God is the first cause. Therefore He did
not begin to be. Therefore neither will He cease to be :
because that which always was, has the power to be always.
Therefore He is eternal.
Furthermore. We observe that in the world there are
certain things which can be and not be, namely those that
are subject to generation and corruption. Now whatsoever
is possible to be has a cause, because, as in itself it is
equally related to two things, namely being and not being,
it follows that if it acquires being this is the result of some
cause. But, as proved above 5 by Aristotle's argument, we
cannot go on to infinity in causes. Therefore we must
suppose some thing, which it is necessary to be. Now
every necessary thing either has a cause of its necessity
from without, or has no such cause, but is necessary of
itself. But we cannot go on to infinity in necessary things
that have causes of their necessity from without. There-
fore we must suppose some first necessary thing which is
necessary of itself : and this is God, since He is the first
cause, as proved above. 6 Therefore God is eternal, since
whatever is necessary of itself is eternal.
Again . Aristotle 7 proves the everlastingness of movement
1 xi. 5. 2 Ch. xiii. 3 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. x. * Ch. xiii.
6 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 8 Phys. i. 10 seqq.
36 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
from the everlastingness of time : and thence he goes on to
prove the everlastingness of the substance that is the cause
of movement. 1 Now the first moving substance is God.
Therefore He is everlasting. And supposing the everlast-
ingness of time and movement to be denied, there still
remains the argument in proof of the everlastingness of
substance. For if movement had a beginning, it must
have had its beginning from some mover. And if this
mover had a beginning, it had its beginning from some
agent. And thus either we shall go on to infinity, or we
shall come to something without a beginning.
Divine authority bears witness to this truth : wherefore
the Psalm 2 reads : But Thou, O Lord, endurest for ever,
and again : 3 But Thou art always the self-same, and Thy
years shall not fail.
THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO PASSIVE POTENTIALITY
Now if God is eternal, it follows of necessity that He is not
For everything in whose substance there is an admixture
of potentiality, is possibly non-existent as regards what-
ever it has of potentiality, for that which may possibly be
may possibly not be. Now God in Himself cannot not be,
since He is eternal. Therefore in God there is no poten-
tiality to be.
Again. Although that which is sometimes potential and
sometimes actual, is in point of time potential before being
actual, nevertheless actuality is simply before potentiality :
because potentiality does not bring itself into actuality, but
needs to be brought into actuality by something actual.
Therefore whatever is in any way potential has something
previous to it. Now God is the first being and the first
cause, as stated above. 4 Therefore in Him there is no
admixture of potentiality.
1 vi. 3 seqq. a Ps. ci. 13. 3 Ibid. 28. * Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XVI 37
Again. That which of itself must necessarily be, can
nowise be possibly, since what of itself must be neces-
sarily, has no cause, whereas whatever can be possibly,
has a cause, as proved above. 1 Now God, in Himself,
must necessarily be. Therefore nowise can He be pos-
sibly. Therefore no potentiality is to be found in His
Again. Everything acts according as it is actual.
Wherefore that which is not wholly actual acts, not by its
whole self, but by part of itself. Now that which does not
act by its whole self is not the first agent, since it acts by
participation of something and not by its essence. There-
fore the first agent, whioh is God, has no admixture of
potentiality, but is pure act.
Moreover. Just as it is natural that a thing should act
in so far as it is actual, so is it natural for it to be passive
in so far as it is in potentiality, for movement is the act of
that which is in potentiality. 2 Now God is altogether im-
passible and immovable, as stated above. 3 Therefore in
Him there is no potentiality, namely that which is passive.
Further. We notice in the world something that passes
from potentiality to actuality. Now it does not reduce
itself from potentiality to actuality, because that which is
potential is not yet, wherefore neither can it act. There-
fore it must be preceded by something else whereby it can
be brought from potentiality to actuality. And if this
again passes from potentiality to actuality, it must be pre-
ceded by something else, whereby it can be brought from
potentiality to actuality. But we cannot go on thus to
infinity. Therefore we must come to something that is
wholly actual and nowise potential. And this we call God.
1 Ch. xv. 2 3 Phys. i. 6. 3 Ch. xiii.
38 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO MATTER
From this it follows that God is not matter.
For matter, such as it is, is in potentiality.
Again. Matter is not a principle of activity : wherefore,
as the Philosopher puts it, 1 efficient and material causes do
not coincide. Now, as stated above, 2 it belongs to God to
be the first efficient cause of things. Therefore He is not
Moreover. For those who referred all things to matter
v- as their first cause, it followed that natural things exist by
chance : and against these it is argued in 2 Phys. 3 There-
fore if God, Who is the first cause, is the material cause of
things, it follows that all things exist by chance.
• i Further. Matter does not become the cause of an actual
thing, except by being altered and changed. Therefore if
God is immovable, as proved above, 4 He can nowise be a
cause of things as their matter.
The Catholic faith professes this truth, asserting that
God created all things not out of His substance, but out of
The ravings of David of Dinant are hereby confounded,
who dared to assert that God is the same as primary matter,
because if they were not the same, they would needs differ
by certain differences, and thus they would not be simple :
since in that which differs from another thing by a differ-
ence, the very difference argues composition. Now this
proceeded from his ignorance of the distinction between
difference and diversity. For as laid down in 10 Metaph. 5
a thing is said to be different in relation to something,
because whatever is different, differs by something, whereas
things are said to be diverse absolutely from the fact that
they are not the same thing. 6 Accordingly we must seek
for a difference in things which have something in com-
1 2 Phys. vii. 3. a Ch. xiii. 3 Chs. viii., ix. * Ch. xiii.
6 D. 9, iii. 6. a Sum. Th. P. I., Q. iii., A. 8, ad 3.
CHAPTER XVIII 39
mon, for we have to point to something in them whereby
they differ : thus two species have a common genus, where-
fore they must needs be distinguished by differences. But
in those things which have nothing in common, we have
not to seek in what they differ, for they are diverse by them-
selves. For thus are opposite differences distinguished
from one another, because they do not participate in a
genus as a part of their essence : and consequently we must
not ask in what they differ, for they are diversified by their
very selves. Thus too, God and primary matter are dis-
tinguished, since, the one being pure act and the other pure
potentiality, they have nothing in common.
THAT IN GOD THERE IS NO COMPOSITION
From the foregoing we are able to conclude that there is no
composition in God. For in every composite thing there
must needs be act and potentiality : since several things
cannot become one simply, unless there be something
actual there and something else potential. Because those
things that are actually, are not united except as an assem-
blage or group, which are not one simply. In these more-
over the very parts that are gathered together are as a
potentiality in relation to the union : for they are actually
united after being potentially unitable. But in God there
is no potentiality. 1 Therefore in Him there is no com-
Again. Every composite is subsequent to its com-
ponents. Therefore the first being, namely God, 2 has no
Further. Every composite is potentially dissoluble, so
far as its composite nature is concerned, although in some
there is something else incompatible with dissolution.
Now that which is dissoluble is in potentiality to not-being.
1 Ch. xvi. 2 Ch. xiii.
40 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
But this cannot be said of God, since of His very essence He
is necessarily. Therefore there is no composition in Him.
Moreover. Every composition requires a compounder :
for if there be composition, it results from several things :
and things that are several in themselves would not com-
bine together unless they were united by a compounder.
If then God were composite, He would have a compounder :
for He could not compound Himself, since no thing is its
own cause, for it would precede itself, which is impossible.
Now the compounder is the efficient cause of the com-
posite. Therefore God would have an efficient cause : and
thus He would not be the first cause, which was proved
Again. In any genus the more simple a thing is the
more excellent it is; such, in the genus hot, is fire which
has no admixture of cold. Therefore that which obtains
the summit of nobility among beings, must be in the sum-
mit of simplicity. Now that which obtains the summit of
nobility in things is what we call God, since He is the first
cause, because the cause is more excellent than its effect.
Therefore there can be no composition in Him.
Moreover. In every composite thing the good does not
belong to this or that part but to the whole, and I speak of
good in reference to that goodness which is proper to, and is
the perfection of, the whole : thus the parts are imperfect in
relation to the whole : thus the parts of a man are not a
man, nor have the parts of the number six the perfection of
six, nor do the parts of a line attain to the perfection of the
measure found in the whole line. Therefore if God is
composite, His proper perfection and goodness are found in
the whole of God but not in any of His parts. And thus
the good that is proper to Him will not be purely in Him ;
and consequently He will not be the first and supreme good.
Further. Before every multitude it is necessary to find
unity. Now in every composite there is multitude. There-
fore that which is before all things, namely God, must
needs be devoid of all composition.
1 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XIX 41
THAT IN GOD THERE IS NOTHING VIOLENT OR BESIDE NATURE
Hence the Philosopher 1 concludes that in God there cannot
be anything violent or outside nature. For whatever has
in itself anything violent or beside nature, has something
added to itself : since that which belongs to a thing's
essence cannot be violent or beside nature. Now no simple
thing has in itself anything that is added, for this would
argue its being composite. Since then God is simple, as
shown above, 2 there can be nothing in Him that is violent
or beside nature.
Further. The necessity resulting from compulsion is a
necessity imposed by another. Now in God there is no
necessity imposed by another, for He is necessary of Him-
self, and the cause of necessity in other things. 3 Therefore
nothing is compulsory in Him.
Moreover. Wherever there is violence, there can be
something besides what belongs to a thing by its very
nature : since violence is contrary to that which is according
to nature. But it is not possible for anything to be in God
that does not belong to Him according to His nature, since
by His very nature He is necessary being, as shown above. 4
Therefore there can be nothing violent in Him.
Again. Everything that is compelled or unnatural has
a natural aptitude to be moved by another : because that
which is done by compulsion has an external principle,
without any concurrence on the part of the patient. 5 Now
God is altogether immovable, as shown above. 6 Therefore
nothing in Him can be violent or unnatural.
1 5 Metaph. i. 6 (D. 4, v. 6). 2 Ch. xviii. 3 Ch. xv.
4 Ch. xv. 6 3 Ethic, i. 3. 6 Ch. xiii.
42 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT GOD IS NOT A BODY
From the foregoing we are also able to prove that God is
not a body.
For since every body is a continuous substance, it is
composite and has parts. Now God is not composite, as
we have shown. 1 Therefore He is not a body.
Further. Every quantitative substance is somehow in
potentiality : for that which is continuous is potentially
divisible to infinity ; and number can be infinitely aug-
mented. Now every body is a quantitative substance.
Therefore every body is in potentiality. But God is not in
potentiality, but is pure act, as shown above. 2 Therefore
God is not a body.
Again. If God were a body, He would needs be a
physical body, for a mathematical body does not exist by
itself, as the Philosopher proves, 3 since dimensions are
accidents. Now He is not a physical body ; for He is
immovable, as we have proved, 4 and every physical body
is movable. Therefore God is not a body.
Moreover. Every body is finite, which is proved in
regard both to spherical and to rectilinear bodies in i Coeli
et Mundi. 5 Now we are able by our intellect and imagina-
tion to soar above any finite body. Wherefore, if God
were a body, our intellect and imagination would be able
to think of something greater than God : and thus God
would not exceed our intellect : which is inadmissible.
Therefore He is not a body.
Furthermore. Intellective knowledge is more certain
than sensitive. Now among natural things we find some
that are objects of sense : therefore there are also some
that are objects of intellect. But the order of powers is
according to the order of objects, in the same way as their
1 Ch. xviii. 2 Ch. xvi. 3 2 Metaph. v.
* Ch. xiii. 6 Ch. v. seqq.
CHAPTER XX 43
distinction. Therefore above all sensible objects there is
an intelligible object existing in natural things. But every
body that exists among things is sensible. Therefore
above all bodies it is possible to find something more
excellent. Wherefore if God were a body, He would not
be the first and supreme being.
Again. A living thing is more excellent than any body
devoid of life. Now the life of a living body is more
excellent than that body, since thereby it excels all other
bodies. Therefore that which is excelled by nothing, is
not a body. But such is God. Therefore He is not a
Moreover. We find the philosophers proving the same
conclusion by arguments 1 based on the eternity of move-
ment, as follows. In all everlasting movement the first
mover must needs not be moved, neither per se nor acci-
dentally, as we have proved above. 2 Now the body of the
heavens is moved in a circle with an everlasting movement.
Therefore its first mover is not moved, neither per se nor
accidentally. Now no body causes local movement unless
itself be moved, because moved and mover must be simul-
taneous ; and thus the body that causes movement must be
itself moved, in order to be simultaneous with the body
that is moved. Moreover no power in a body causes move-
ment except it be moved accidentally ; since, when the body
is moved, the power of that body is moved accidentally.
Therefore the first mover of the heavens is neither a body
nor a power residing in a body. Now that to which the
movement of the heavens is ultimately reduced as to the
first immovable mover, is God. Therefore God is not a
Again. No infinite power is a power residing in a
magnitude. But the power of the first mover is an infinite
power. Therefore it does not reside in a magnitude. And
thus God, Who is the first mover, is neither a body nor a
power residing in a body.
The first proposition is proved as follows. If a power
1 7 and 8 Phys. See above, ch. xiii. a Ch. xiii.
44 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
residing in a magnitude be infinite, this magnitude is
either finite or infinite. But there is no infinite magnitude,
as proved in 3 Phys. 1 and 1 Coeli et Mundi. 2 And it is not
possible for a finite magnitude to have an infinite power.
Therefore in no magnitude can there be an infinite power.
That there cannot be an infinite power in a finite magni-
tude is proved thus. A great power produces in less time
an equal effect, which a lesser power produces in more
time : of whatever kind this effect may be, whether it be
one of alteration, of local movement, or of any other kind
of movement. Now an infinite power surpasses every finite
power. It follows therefore that it produces its effect more
rapidly, by causing a more rapid movement than any finite
power. Nor can this greater rapidity be one of time.
Therefore it follows that the effect is produced in an in-
divisible point of time. And thus moving, being moved,
and movement will be instantaneous : the contrary of which
has been proved in 6 Phys. 3
That an infinite power of a finite magnitude cannot
cause movement in time, is proved thus. Let A be an
infinite power; and AB a part thereof. This part there-
fore will cause movement in more time. And yet there
must be proportion between this time and the time in which
the whole power causes movement, since both times are
finite. Suppose then these two times to be in proportion
as 1 to 10, for it does not affect this argument whether we
take this or any other ratio. Now if we increase the afore-
said finite power, we must decrease the time in proportion
to the increase of the power, since a greater power causes
movement in less time. If therefore we increase it tenfold,
that power will cause movement in a time which will be
one-tenth of the time occupied by the first part that we took
of the infinite power, namely AB. And yet this power
which is ten times the aforesaid power is a finite power,
since it has a fixed proportion to a finite power. It follows
therefore that a finite power and an infinite power cause
movement in an equal time : which is impossible. There-
1 Ch. v. 2 Ch. v. seqq. 3 Ch. iii.
CHAPTER XX 45
fore an infinite power of a finite magnitude cannot cause
movement in any time.
That the power of the first mover is infinite is proved
thus. No finite power can cause movement in an infinite
time. Now the power of the first mover causes movement
in an infinite time, since the first movement is eternal.
Therefore the power of the first mover is infinite. The first
proposition is proved thus. If any finite power of a body
causes movement in infinite time, a part of that body having
a part of that power, will cause movement during less time,
since the greater power a thing has, for so much the longer
time will it be able to continue a movement, and thus the
aforesaid part will cause movement in finite time, and a
greater part will be able to cause movement during more
time. And thus always according as we increase the
power of the mover, we increase the time in the same pro-
portion. But if this increase be made a certain number
of times we shall come to the quantity of the whole or even
go beyond it. Therefore the increase also on the part of
the time will reach the quantity of time wherein the whole
causes movement. And yet the time wherein the whole
causes movement was supposed to be infinite. Conse-
quently a finite time will measure an infinite time : which
However, there are several objections to this chain of
reasoning. One of these is that it might be held that the
body which moves the first thing moved is not divisible, as
is the case of a heavenly body : whereas the argument given
above supposes it to be divided.
To this we reply that a conditional clause may be true
though its antecedent be impossible. 'And if there be
anything to disprove such a conditional, the antecedent is
impossible. Thus if anyone disprove this conditional, //
a man flies, he has wings, the antecedent would be impos-
sible. It is in this way that we are to understand the pro-
cess of the aforesaid reasoning. For this conditional is
true, If a heavenly body be divided, its part will have less
power than the whole. But this conditional is disproved
46 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
if we suppose that the first mover is a body, on account of
the impossibilities that follow. Wherefore it is clear that
this is impossible. We can reply in the same way if objec-
tion be made to the increase of finite powers. Because it
is impossible in natural things to find powers according
to any proportion that there is between one time and any
other time. And yet the conditional required in the afore-
said argument is true.
The second objection is that, although a body be divided,
it is possible for a power of a body not to Be divided when
the body is divided, thus the rational soul is not divided
when the body is divided.
To this we reply that by the above argument it is not
proved that God is not united to the body as the rational
soul is united to Che human body, but that He is not a
power residing in a body, as a material power which is
divided when the body is divided. Wherefore it is also
said of the human intellect that it is neither a body nor a
power in a body. 1 That God is not united to the body as
its soul, is another question. 2
The third objection is that if the power of every body is
finite, as is proved in the above process ; and if a finite
power cannot make its effect to endure an infinite time; it
will follow that no body can endure an infinite time : and
consequently that a heavenly body will be necessarily cor-
rupted. Some reply to this that a heavenly body in respect
of its own power is defectible, but acquires everlastingness
from another that has infinite power. Apparently Plato
approves of this solution, for he represents God as speaking
of the heavenly bodies as follows : By your nature ye are
corruptible, but by My will incorruptible, because My will
is greater than your necessity. 3
But the Commentator refutes this solution in n Metaph.
For it is impossible, according to him, that what in itself
may possibly not be, should acquire everlastingness of
being from another : since it would follow that the cor-
ruptible is changed into incorruptibility; and this, in his
* Cf. Bk. II., ch. lvi. 2 Cf. Ch. xxvii. 3 Thua-us xli.
CHAPTER XX 47
opinion, is impossible. Wherefore he replies after this
fashion : that in a heavenly body whatever power there is,
is finite, and yet it does not follow that it has all power;
for, according to Aristotle (8 Metaph.) 1 the potentiality to
(be) somewhere is in a heavenly body, but not the poten-
tiality to be. And thus it does not follow that it has a
potentiality to not-be. It must be observed, however, that
this reply of the Commentator is insufficient. Because,
although it be granted that in a heavenly body there is no
quasi-potentiality to be, which potentiality is that of matter,
there is nevertheless in it a quasi-active potentiality, which
is the power of being : since Aristotle says explicitly in
i Cceli et Mundi, 2 that the heaven has the power to be
always. Hence it is better to reply that since power implies
relation to act, we should judge of power according to the
mode of the act. Now movement by its very nature has
quantity and extension, wherefore its infinite duration
requires that the moving power should be infinite. On the
other hand being has no quantitative extension, especially
in a thing whose being is invariable, such as the heaven.
Hence it does not follow that the power of being a finite
body is infinite though its duration be infinite : because it
matters not whether that power make a thing to last for an
instant or for an infinite time, since that invariable being
is not affected by time except accidentally.
The fourth objection is that the statement that what
causes movement in infinite time must have an infinite
power, does not necessarily apply to those movers which
are not altered by moving. Because such a movement con-
sumes nothing of their power; wherefore they can cause
movement for no less time after they have moved for a
certain time, than before. Thus the power of the sun is
finite, and, because its power is not diminished on account
of its action, it can act on this lower world for an infinite
time, according to nature.
To this we reply that a body moves not unless it be moved,
as we have shown. Therefore, supposing a body not to be
1 D. 7, iv. 6. 2 Ch. iii. 4 ; xii. 3.
48 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
moved, it follows that it does not move. Now in anything
that is moved there is potentiality to opposites, since the
terms of movement are opposite to one another. Conse-
quently, considered in itself, every body that is moved is
possibly not moved. And that which is possibly not
moved* is not apt of itself to be moved for an everlasting
time : and consequently neither is it apt to move for a
Accordingly the demonstration given above is based on
the finite power of a finite body ; which power cannot of
itself move in an infinite time. But a body which of itself
is possibly moved and not moved, and possibly moves and
does not move, can acquire perpetual movement from some
cause; and this cause must needs be incorporeal. Where-
fore the first mover must needs be incorporeal. Hence
according to nature nothing hinders a finite body, which
acquires from another cause perpetuity in being moved,
from having also perpetuity in moving : since also the first
heavenly body, according to nature, can cause a perpetual
circular movement in the lower bodies, according as one
sphere moves another. Nor is it impossible, as the Com-
mentator maintains, 1 for that which is, of itself, in poten-
tiality to being moved and not moved, to acquire perpetual
movement from something else, as he supposed it impos-
sible as regards perpetuity of being. For movement is a
kind of outflow from the mover to the thing movable,
and consequently a movable thing can acquire perpetual
movement from something else, without having it by
nature. On the other hand to be is something fixed and
quiescent in a being, and consequently that which is, of itself,
in potentiality to not-be, cannot, as he says, in the course of
nature, acquire from something else perpetuity of being.
The fifth objection is that according to the above
reasoning there does not appear to be more reason why
there should not be an infinite power in a magnitude than
outside a magnitude : for in either case it would follow
that it moves in not-time.
1 See above : But the Commentator \. , . p. 46.1
CHAPTER XX 49
To this it may be replied that finite and infinite are found
in a magnitude, in time and in movement in a univocal
sense, as proved in 3 and 6 Phys., 1 wherefore the infinite
in one of them removes a finite proportion in the others :
whereas in things devoid of magnitude there is neither
finite nor infinite unless equivocally. Hence the above
course of reasoning has no place in suchlike powers.
But another and better answer is that the heaven has two
movers. 2 One is its proximate mover, which is of finite
power, and thence it is that its movement is of finite
velocity. The other is its remote mover, which is of infinite
power, whence it is that its movement can be of infinite dura-
tion. Thus it is clear that an infinite power which is not
in a magnitude, can move a body not immediately in time :
whereas a power which is in a magnitude must needs move
immediately, since no body moves without itself being
moved. Wherefore, if it moved, it would follow that it
moves in not-time.
Better still it may be replied that a power which is not in
a magnitude is an intellect, and moves by its will. Where-
fore it moves according to the requirement of the movable
and not according to the proportion of its strength. On
the other hand a power that is in a magnitude cannot move
save by natural necessity, for it has been proved that the
intellect is not a bodily force. 3 Wherefore it causes move-
ment necessarily according to the proportion of its quantity.
Hence it follows that if it moves anything it moves it in-
stantaneously. In this sense then, the foregoing objections
being refuted, proceeds the reasoning of Aristotle.
Moreover. No movement that proceeds from a bodily
mover can be continuous and regular : because a bodily
mover, in local movement, moves by attraction or repul-
sion, and that which is attracted or repelled is not disposed
in the same way towards its mover from tfhe beginning to
the end of the movement, since at one time it is nearer to it
and at another time further from it : and thus no body can
1 3, iv. i ; 6, ii. 8. 2 Averroes, 12 Meiafh. t. c. 41.
3 See above : To this we reply ... p. 46.
50 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
cause a continuous and regular movement. On the other
hand the first movement is continuous and regular, as is
proved in 8 Phys. 1 Therefore the mover of the first move-
ment is not a body.
Again. No movement that tends towards an end which
passes from potentiality to actuality, can be perpetual :
since, when it arrives at actuality, the movement ceases.
If therefore the first movement is perpetual, it must be
towards an end which is always and in every way actual.
Now such is neither a body nor a power residing in a
body ; because these are all movable either per se or acci-
dentally. Therefore the end of the first movement is not
a body nor a power residing in a body. Now the end of
the first movement is the first mover, which moves as the
object of desire: 2 and that is God. Therefore God is
neither a body nor a power residing in a body.
Now though, according to our faith, it is false that the
movement of the heavens is everlasting, as we shall show
further on ; 3 it is nevertheless true that that movement will
not cease, either on account of lack of power in the mover,
or on account of the substance of the movable being cor-
rupted, since we do not find that the movement of the
heavens slackens in the course of time. Wherefore the
aforesaid proofs lose nothing of their efficacy.
The truth thus demonstrated is in accordance with divine
authority. For it is said (Jo. iv. 24) : God is a spirit, and
they that adore Him, must adore Him in spirit and in truth;
and again (1 Tim. i. 17) : To the King of ages, immortal,
invisible, the only God; and (Rom. i. 20) : The invisible
things of God . . . are clearly seen, being understood by
the things that are made, for things that are clearly seen
not by the eye but by the mind, are incorporeal.
Hereby is refuted the error of the early natural philoso-
phers,* who admitted none but material causes, such as
fire, water and the like, and consequently asserted that the
first principles of things were bodies, and called them gods.
1 Ch. vii. seqq. 2 Cf. ch. xiii. : Since, however, . . . p. 31.
3 Bk. IV., ch. xcvii. * Cf. 1 Phys. ii.
CHAPTER XXI 51
Among these also there were some who held that the
causes of movement were sympathy and antipathy : and
these again are refuted by the above arguments. For since
according to them sympathy and antipathy are in bodies,
it would follow that the first principles of movement are
forces residing in a body. They also asserted that God
was composed of the four elements and sympathy : from
which we gather that they held God to be a heavenly body.
Among the ancients Anaxagoras alone came near to the
truth, since he affirmed that all things are moved by an
By this truth, moreover, those heathens are refuted who
maintained that the very elements of the world, and the
forces residing in them, are gods; for instance the sun,
moon, earth, water and so forth, being led astray by the
errors of the philosophers mentioned above.
Again, the above arguments confound the extrava-
gances of the unlettered Jews, of Tertullian, of the
Vadiani or Anthropomorphite heretics, who depicted God
with human features ; and again of the Manichees who
affirmed God to be an infinite substance composed of light
and spread abroad throughout boundless space. The occa-
sion of all these errors was that in their thoughts about
divine things they had recourse to their imagination, which
can reflect none but corporeal likenesses. Wherefore it
behoves us to put the imagination aside when we meditate
on things incorporeal.
THAT GOD IS HIS OWN ESSENCE
From what has been laid down we are able to conclude that
God is His own essence, quiddity or nature.
In everything that is not its own essence or quiddity
there must needs be some kind of composition : for since
each thing contains its own essence, if a thing contained
nothing besides its own essence, all that a thing is would
be its essence. Therefore if a thing were not its own
52 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
essence, there must be something in it besides its essence :
and consequently there must be composition therein. For
which reason the essence in composite things has the signi-
fication of a part, as humanity in a man. Now it has been
shown 1 that in God there is no composition. Therefore
God is His own essence.
Again. Seemingly that alone which does not enter into
the definition of a thing is beside the essence of that thing :
for a definition signifies what a thing is. 2 Now only the
accidents of a thing do not enter into its definition : and
consequently only accidents are in a thing besides its
essence. But in God there are no accidents, as we' shall
show further on. 3 Accordingly, there is nothing in Him
besides His essence. Therefore He is His own essence.
Moreover. Forms that are not predicated of subsistent
things, whether the latter be taken universally or singly,
are not single per se subsistent forms individualized in
themselves. For we do not say that Socrates, or man, or
an animal is whiteness, because whiteness is not singly
per se subsistent, but is individualized by its subsistent
subject. Likewise natural forms do not per se subsist
singly, but are individualized in their respective matters :
wherefore we do not say that this individual fire, or that
fire in general is its own form. Moreover the essences or
quiddities of genera or species are individualized by the
signate matter of this or that individual, although indeed
the quiddity of a genus or species includes form and matter
in general : wherefore we do not say that Socrates, or man,
is humanity. Now the divine essence exists per se singly
and is individualized in itself, since it is not in any matter,
as shown above.* Hence the divine essence is predicated
of God, so that we say : God is His own essence.
Further. The essence of a thing is either the thing
itself, or is related to it in some way as cause : since a thing
derives its species from its essence. But nothing can in any
way be a cause of God : for He is the first being, as shown
above. 5 Therefore God is His own essence.
1 Ch. xviii. 2 fMetaph. viii. 4. 3 Ch. xxiii. * Ch. xvii. 6 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XXII 53
Again. That which is not its own essence, is related in
respect of some part of itself to that essence, as potentiality
to act : wherefore the essence is signified by way of form,
for instance humanity. But there is no potentiality in God,
as shown above, 1 therefore it follows that He is His own
THAT IN GOD EXISTENCE AND ESSENCE ARE THE SAME
From what has been shown above, we may go on to prove
that in God essence or quiddity is not distinct from His
For it has been shown above 2 that there is a thing which
exists of itself necessarily, and this is God. Now necessary
existence, if it belong to a quiddity which is not that exist-
ence itself, is either inconsistent with or repugnant to that
quiddity, as per se existence is to the quiddity of whiteness,
or else is consistent or akin thereto, for instance that white-
ness exist in some other thing. In the former supposition
it will not belong to that quiddity to exist per se necessarily,
for instance it becomes not whiteness to exist per se. In
the second hypothesis, either this existence must be de-
pendent on the essence, or both of them on some other
cause, or the essence on the existence. The first two are in
contradiction with the very notion of necessary per se exist-
ence : for if it depend on something else, it no longer exists
necessarily. From the third supposition it follows that this
quiddity is added accidentally to the thing which exists per
se necessarily : because whatever follows on the essence of
a thing is accidental thereto. Therefore God has not an
essence distinct from His existence.
Against this, however, it might be urged that this exist-
ence does not depend absolutely on this essence, and in
such a way that it would not be at all unless the essence
were : but that it depends as regards the conjunction
1 Ch. xvi. 2 Ch. xiii.
54 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
whereby they are united together. And thus this existence
is per se necessary, while the conjunction is not per se
But this answer does not avoid the above impossibility.
For if this existence can be understood without this essence,
it will follow that this essence is related accidentally to this
existence. Now this existence is that which exists per se
necessarily. Therefore this essence is related accidentally
to that which exists per se necessarily. Therefore it is not
its quiddity. But God is that which exists per se neces-
sarily. Therefore this existence is not God's essence, but
something subsequent thereto. On the other hand if this
existence cannot be understood apart from this essence,
then this existence depends absolutely on that on which
depends its conjunction with this essence : and thus the
same conclusion follows.
Further. Each thing exists by its own existence.
Wherefore that which is not its own existence does not exist
per se necessarily. But God exists per se necessarily.
Therefore God is His own existence.
Moreover. If God's existence is not His essence; and it
cannot be a part of Him, since the divine essence is simple,
as shown above j 1 it follows that this existence is something
besides His essence. Now whatever is becoming to a thing
besides its essence, is becoming to it through some cause :
for those things which are not one per se, if they be united
together, must needs be united through some cause. There-
fore existence is becoming to that quiddity through some
cause. Either, then, this cause is something essential to
that thing, or the essence itself, or else it is some other
thing. If the former ; and the essence exists according to
that existence; it follows that a thing is a cause of its own
existence. But this is impossible, because according to the
understanding the cause exists before the effect; and con-
sequently if a thing is the cause of its own existence, it
would be understood to exist before having existence, which
is impossible : — unless it be understood that a thing is the
1 Ch. xviii.
CHAPTER XXII 55
cause of its own accidental existence, which is a relative
existence. For this is not impossible : for we find an
accidental being caused by the principles of its subject,
before the substantial being of the subject is understood to
exist. Now, however, we are speaking, not of accidental,
but of substantial existence. If, on the other hand, exist-
ence be becoming to the essence, by reason of some other
cause ; then whatever acquires existence from another cause,
is caused and is not the first cause : whereas God is the first
cause, having no cause, as shown above. 1 Wherefore this
quiddity that acquires existence elsewhere is not the quid-
dity of God. Therefore it is necessary that God's existence
be His own quiddity.
Moreover. Existence denotes a kind of actuality : since
a thing is said to exist, not through being in potentiality,
but through being in act. Now everything to which an act
is becoming, and which is distinct from that act, is related
thereto as potentiality to act : since act and potentiality are
reciprocal terms. Accordingly, if the divine essence is
distinct from its existence, it follows that His essence and
existence are mutually related as potentiality and act. Now
it has been proved that in God there is nothing of poten-
tiality, and that He is pure act. 2 Therefore God's essence
is not distinct from His existence.
Again. Whatsoever cannot exist unless several things
concur, is composite. Now no thing in which essence and
existence are distinct from one another can exist except
several things concur, to wit its essence and existence.
Therefore every thing, in which essence and existence are
distinct, is composite. But God is not composite, as proved
above. 3 Therefore God's existence is His essence.
Further. Everything exists through having existence.
Therefore nothing the essence of which is not its existence,
exists by its essence, but by participation of something,
namely existence. Now that which exists by participation
of something cannot be the first being, because that in which
a thing participates in order to exist, is previous to that
1 Ch. xiii. 2 Ch. xvi. 3 Ch. xviii.
56 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
thing. But God is the first being, to which nothing is
previous. 1 Therefore God's essence is His existence.
This sublime truth Moses was taught by the Lord : for
when he asked the Lord (Exod. iii. 13, 14) : // the children
of Israel should say to me: What is His name? what shall
I say to them? the Lord answered: 1 am who am. . . .
Thus shall thou say to the children of Israel: he who is
hath sent me to you; thus declaring His own name to be :
he who is. Now every name is appointed to signify the
nature or essence of a thing. Wherefore it follows that
God's very existence itself is His essence or nature.
Moreover. The Catholic doctors have professed this
truth. For Hilary says (De Trin.) 2 : Existence is not an
accident in God, but the subsisting truth, the abiding cause,
and the natural property of His essence. And Boethius
says (De Trin.) 3 that the divine substance is existence
itself, and all other existence proceeds therefrom.
THAT THERE IS NO ACCIDENT IN GOD
From this truth it follows of necessity that nothing can
accrue to God besides His essence, nor anything be acci-
dentally in Him.
For existence itself cannot participate in something that
is not of its essence; although that which exists can par-
ticipate in something else. Because nothing is more formal
or more simple than existence. Hence existence itself can
participate in nothing. Now the divine substance is exist-
ence itself. 4 Therefore He ihas nothing that is not of His
substance. Therefore no accident can be in Him.
Moreover. Whatever is in a thing accidentally, has a
cause of being there : since it is added to the essence of
that in which it is. Therefore if anything is in God acci-
dentally, this must be through some cause. Consequently
1 Ch. xiii. 2 vii. 11. 3 ii. * Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XXIII 57
the cause of the accident is either the divine substance itself,
or something else. If it is something else, this other thing
must act on the divine substance ; since nothing introduces
a form whether substantial or accidental, into some recipient,
unless in some way it act upon that recipient : because
to act is nothing but to make something to be actual, and
it is this by a form. Wherefore God will be passive and
movable to some agent : which is against what has been
decided above. 1 If, on the other hand, the divine sub-
stance itself is the cause of the accident that is in it, then
it is impossible for it to be its cause as receiving it, since
then the same thing in the same respect would make itself
to be in act. Therefore, if there is an accident in God, it
follows that He receives that accident in one respect, and
causes it in another, even as bodies receive their proper
accidents through the nature of their matter, and cause
them through their form : so that God, therefore, will be
composite, the contrary of which has been proved above. 2
Again. Every subject of an accident is compared thereto
as potentiality to act : because an accident is a kind of form
making a thing to exist actually according to accidental,
existence. But there is no potentiality in God, as shown
above. 3 Therefore there can be no accident in Him.
Moreover. Everything in which something is acci-
dentally is in some way changeable as to its nature : since
an accident, by its very nature, may be in a thing or not
in it. Therefore if God has something that becomes Him
accidentally, it follows that He is changeable : the contrary
of which has been proved above. 4
Further. Everything that has an accident in itself, is
not whatever it has in itself, because an accident is not of
the essence of its subject. But God is whatever He has in
Himself. Therefore no accident is in God. The middle
proposition is proved as follows. A thing is always to be
found more excellently in the cause than in the effect. But
God is the cause of all things. Therefore whatever is in
Him, is found in Him in the most perfect way. Now that
1 Ch. xiii. 3 Ch. xviii. 3 Ch. xvi. « Ch. xiii.
58 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
which is most perfectly becoming to a thing, is that thing
itself : because it is more perfectly one than when one thing
is united to another substantially as form is united to
matter : which union again is more perfect than when one
thing is in another accidentally. It follows therefore that
God is whatever He has.
Again. Substance is not dependent upon accident,
although accident depends on substance. Now that which
is not dependent upon another, can sometimes be found
without it. 1 Therefore some substance can be found with-
out an accident : and this seemingly is most becoming to a
supremely simple substance, such as the divine substance. 2
Therefore the divine substance is altogether without
The Catholic tractarians also are in agreement with this
statement. Wherefore Augustine says (De Trin.) z that
there is no accident in God.
Having established this truth we are able to refute cer-
tain erroneous statements in the law of the Saracens to the
effect that the divine essence has certain forms added
THAT THE DIVINE BEING CANNOT BE SPECIFIED BY THE ADDI-
TION OF ANY SUBSTANTIAL DIFFERENCE
Again. From what we have said above, it can be shown
that we cannot add anything to the divine being so as to
specify it by an essential specification, as a genus is speci-
fied by differences. For it is impossible that a thing be in
act unless there be also all those things whereby its sub-
stantial being is specified : for an animal cannot be in
act unless it be either a rational or an irrational animal.
Wherefore also the Platonists who postulated ideas, did not
postulate per se existing ideas of genera, which derive
1 Cj. ch. xiii : Again if any two things ... p. 28.
3 Ch. xviii. 3 v. 4.
CHAPTER XXIV 59
specification from essential differences, but they postulated
per se existing ideas of the species alone, which need not
to be specified by essential differences. If, then, the divine
being- can receive an essential specification from something
added to it, that being will not be in act without something
added to it. But God's very being is His substance as
shown above. 1 Therefore the divine substance cannot be
in act without some addition : the contrary of which has
been shown above. 2
Again. Whatever needs something added to it, in order
to exist, is in potentiality to that thing. But the divine
substance is not in potentiality in any way, as proved
above : 3 and God's substance is His being. Therefore His
being cannot receive essential specification from something
added to it.
Moreover. Whatever makes a thing to be in act, and is
intrinsic to that thing, is either the whole essence thereof
or part of its essence. Now that Which specifies a thing by
an essential specification, makes a thing to be in act, and
is intrinsic to the thing specified : otherwise the latter could
not be specified essentially thereby. Therefore it must be
either the very essence or part of the essence of that thing.
But if something be added to the divine being, it cannot
be the whole essence of God, for it has already been proved 4
that God's existence is not distinct from His essence.
Therefore it follows that it is a part of the divine essence :
and thus God would be composed of essential parts, the
contrary of wihich was proved above. 5
Again. That which is added to a thing by way of essen-
tial specification, does not constitute the notion of that
thing, but only makes it to be in act : for rational added to
animal makes animal to be in act, but does not constitute
the notion of an animal as such : because the difference
does not enter into the definition of the genus. Now if
something be added to God to specify Him with an essen-
tial specification, it must give that to which it is added the
1 Ch. xxii. 2 Ch. xiii. 3 Ch. xvi.
4 Ch. xxii. 8 Ch. xviii.
6o THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
notion of its proper quiddity or nature : since what is added
thus, gives the thing actual being. Now this, namely
actual being, is the divine essence itself, as shown above. 1
It follows, therefore, that nothing can be added to the divine
being to give it an essential specification, as a difference
specifies a genus.
THAT GOD IS NOT IN ANY GENUS
Hence it follows of necessity that God is not in any genus.
For whatever is in a genus, has in itself something
whereby its generic nature is specified : for nothing is in a
genus without being in some one of its species. But in
God this is impossible, as shown above. 2 Therefore it is
impossible that God be in any genus.
Moreover. If God be in a genus, He is either in the
genus of accident, or in that of substance. He is not in the
genus of accident : for an accident cannot be the first being
and first cause. /Nor can He be in the genus of substance :
for substance that is a genus is not being itself, otherwise
every substance would be its own being, and thus would
not be caused by something else, which is impossible, as is
clear from what we have said above. 3 Now God is being
itself. 4 Therefore He is not in any genus./
Again. Whatever is in a genus differs as to being from
the other things contained in the same genus : otherwise a
genus would not be predicated of several things. Now all
things that are contained in one same genus, must agree in
the whatness of the genus, because the genus is predicated
of all in respect of what a thing is. Therefore the being
of anything contained in a genus is beside the whatness of
the genus. But this is impossible in God. 6 Therefore God
is not in a genus.
Further. A thing is placed in a genus by the nature of
1 Ch. xxii. * Ch. xxiv. 3 Ch. xiii.
4 Ch. xxii. 5 Ch. xxiv.
CHAPTER XXV 61
its ivhatness, for genus is predicated of what a thing is.
But the whatness of God is His very being. 1 Now a thing
is not placed in a genus according to its being, because then
being would be a genus signifying being itself. It remains
therefore that God is not in a genus.
That being cannot be a genus is proved by the Philoso-
pher as follows. 2 If being were a genus, it would be neces-
sary to find a difference in order to contract it to a species.
Now no difference participates in the genus, so that, to
wit, the genus be contained in the notion of the difference,
for thus the genus would be placed twice in the definition
of the species : but the difference must be something besides
that which is contained in the notion of the genus. Now
there can be nothing besides that which is understood by
being, if being belong to the notion of those things of
which it is predicated. And thus by no difference can
being be contracted. It remains, therefore, that being is
not a genus : wherefore it follows of necessity that God is
not in a genus.
Wherefore it is likewise evident that God cannot be
defined : since every definition is composed of genus and
It is also clear that no demonstration is possible in regard
to Him : because the principle of a demonstration is the
definition of that about which the demonstration is made.
Someone, however, might think that, although the name
of substance cannot properly be applied to God, because
God does not subsist under (substat) accidents : yet the
thing signified by that term is applicable to Him, and con-
sequently He is in the genus substance. For substance is
(g, 2 er se being, and it is clear that this can be applied to
God, from the fact that it has been proved 3 that He is not
an accident. But to this we reply, according to what has
been said, that per se being is not in the definition of sub-
stance. For from the fact that it is described as a being
it cannot be a genus, since it has been already proved that
being has not the conditions of a genus : and again from
1 Ch. xxii. 2 2 Metaph. iii. 8. 3 Ch. xxiii.
62 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
the fact that it is described as being per se, for this would
seem to denote nothing else than a negation, since it is said
to be a per se being, through not being in another, which is
a pure negation. And this cannot satisfy the conditions of
a genus, for then a genus would not express what a thing
is, but what it is not. Therefore we must understand the
definition of substance in this way, that a substance is a
thing to which it is fitting not to be in a subject: the word
thing being taken from its quiddity, just as being is from
existence : so that the meaning of substance is that it has
a quiddity to which it is fitting to exist not in another. Now
this does not apply to God, for He has no quiddity besides
His existence. 1 Hence it follows that He is nowise in the
genus of substance : and consequently that He is in no
genus, since it has been proved 2 that He is not in the genus
THAT GOD IS NOT THE FORMAL BEING OF ALL THINGS
From the foregoing we are able to refute the error of some
who have asserted that God is nothing else than the formal
being of everything. 3
For this being is divided into substantial and accidental
being. Now the divine being is neither the being of a
substance nor the being of an accident, as shown above. 4
Therefore it is impossible for God to be the being whereby
everything is formally.
Again. Things are not distinct from one another in that
they have being, since in this they all agree. If, then,
things differ from one another, it follows that either being
itself is specified by certain differences added thereto, so
that different things have a specifically different being, or
that things differ in that being itself is attached to speci-
fically different natures. But the former of these is im-
1 Ch. xxii. 2 Ch. xxiii.
3 Sum. TIu P. I., Q. iii., A. 8. 4 Ch. xxv.
CHAPTER XXVI 63
possible, because an addition cannot be attached to being
in the same way as a difference is added to a genus, as
already stated. 1 It remains, therefore, that things differ
because they have different natures, to which being is
attached in different ways. Now the divine being is not
attached to another nature, but is the nature itself, as shown
above. 2 If, therefore, the divine being were the formal
being of all things, it would follow that all things are
Moreover. The principle is naturally prior to that which
flows from it. Now in certain things being has something
by way of principle : since the form is said to be the prin-
ciple of being; and in like manner the agent which gives
certain things actual being. Therefore if the divine being
is the being of each thing, it will follow that God, Who is
His own being, has a cause, and thus is not per se necessary
being. The contrary of which has been shown above. 3
Further. That which is common to many is not some-
thing besides those many except only logically : thus
animal is not something besides Socrates and Plato and
other animals except as considered by the mind, which
apprehends the form of animal as divested of all that
specifies, and individualizes it : for man is that which is
truly an animal, else it would follow that in Socrates and
Plato there are several animals, namely animal in general,
man in general, and Plato himself. Much less therefore
being itself in general is something apart from all things
that have being ; except only as apprehended by the mind.
If therefore God is being in general, He will not be an
individual thing except only as apprehended in the mind.
Now it has been shown above 4 that God is something not
merely in the intellect, but in reality. Therefore God is
not the common being of all.
Again. Generation is essentially the way to being, and
corruption the way to not-being. For the term of genera-
tion is the form, and that of corruption privation, for no
other reason than because the form makes a thing to be,
1 Ch. xxv. 2 Ch. xxii. 3 Ch. xv. * Ch. xiii.
64 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
and corruption makes a thing not to be, for supposing a
certain form not to give being, that which received that
form would not be said to be generated. If, then, God
were the formal being of all things it would follow that He
is the term of generation. Which is false, since He is
eternal, as we have shown above. 1
Moreover. It would follow that the being of every
thing has been from eternity : wherefore there would be
neither generation nor corruption. For if there were, it
would follow that a thing acquires anew a being already
pre-existing. Either then it is acquired by something
already existing, or else by something nowise pre-existing.
In the first case, since according to the above supposition
all existing things have the same being, it would follow
that the thing which is said to be generated, receives not
a new being but a new mode of being, and therefore is not
generated but altered. If on the other hand the thing
nowise existed before, it would follow that it is made out
of nothing, and this is contrary to the essence of genera-
tion. Consequently this supposition would wholly do
away with generation and corruption : and therefore it is
clear that it is impossible.
Moreover. The Sacred Doctrine refutes this error, by
confessing that God is high and elevated (Isa. vi. i), and
that He is over all things (Rom. ix. 5). For if He were the
being of all, He would be something in all, and not above
Those who erred thus are condemned by the same
sentence as idolaters who gave the incommunicable name, 2
i.e. of God, to wood and stones (Wis. xiv. 21). For if God
is the being of all it would be no truer to say a stone is a
being than to say a stone is God.
Now there are four things which apparently fostered this
error. The first was a wrong understanding of certain
authorities. For they found Dionysius saying (Ccel.
Hier. iv.) : The being of all is the super-essential God-
head: and from this they wished to conclude that God is
1 Ch. xv. 2 Vulg., names.
CHAPTER XXVI 65
the formal being of all things, not perceiving that this
meaning is irreconcilable with the words. For if the God-
head were the formal being of all, it would not be above all,
but in the midst of all, in fact something of all. Where-
fore when he said that the Godhead is above all, he de-
clares It to be by Its nature distinct from all and placed
above all. And by saying that the Godhead is the being
of all, he declares that all things derive from God a likeness
to the divine being. Moreover he elsewhere expressly pro-
scribes their wrong interpretation (Div. Nom. ii.) where he
declares that there can be no contact with God nor mingling
of Him with other things, as of point with line, or of
the shape of the seal on wax.
The second cause of this error was defective reason. For
since that which is common is specified or individualized by
addition, they deemed the divine being, to which nothing is
added, not to be some proper being, but the common being
of all, not perceiving that the common or universal cannot
be without some addition, though it be considered apart
from any addition : for animal cannot be apart from the
difference of rational or irrational, although we think of it
apart from these differences. Moreover although we think
of the universal without an addition, we do not think of it
apart from its receptivity of addition : for if no difference
could be added to animal, it would not be a genus ; and the
same applies to all other names of things. Now the divine
being is without addition, not only in thought but also in
reality ; and not only is it without addition, but also without
receptivity of addition. Wherefore from the very fact that
it neither receives nor can receive addition, we should con-
clude rather that God is not common but proper being;
since His being is distinct from all others for the very
reason that nothing can be added to it. Hence the Com-
mentator says (De causis) 1 that the first cause, by reason of
the very purity of its goodness, is distinct from others and,
so to speak, individualized.
The third cause of this error is the consideration of the
1 Prop. ix.
66 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
divine simplicity. For since God is the extreme of sim-
plicity, they thought that if we make an analysis of all that
is in us, the last thing, being the most simple, must be God ;
for we cannot proceed indefinitely in the composition of the
things that are in us. In this again their reason was lack-
ing, that they failed to observe that what is most simple in
us, is not so much a complete thing as some part of a thing :
whereas simplicity is ascribed to God as to a perfect sub-
The fourth thing that might lead them into this error, is
the expression whereby we say that God is in all things :
for they failed to perceive that He is in things, not as part
thereof, but as the cause of things, which is nowise wanting
to its effect. For we do not say that the form is in the body
in the same sense as we say that the sailor is in the boat.
THAT GOD IS NOT THE FORM OF A BODY
Accordingly, having shown that God is not the being of
all, it can be proved in like manner that God is not the form
of any thing.
For the divine being cannot be the being of a quiddity
that is not its own being, as shown above. 1 Now that
which is the divine being itself is no other than God.
Therefore it is impossible for God to be the form of any
Further. The form of a body is not its very being but
the principle of its being. But God is being itself. There-
fore God is not the form of a body.
Again. The union of form and matter results in a com-
posite, and this is a whole in respect of form and matter.
Now the parts are in potentiality with respect to the whole :
but in God there is no potentiality. 2 Therefore it is impos-
sible for God to be the form united to any thing.
1 Ch. xxii. a Ch. xvi.
CHAPTER XXVII 67
Again. That which has being per se, is more excellent
than what has being in another. Now every form of a body
has being in another. Since then God is the most excellent
being, as the first cause of being, 1 He cannot be the form of
Moreover, this can also be proved from the eternity of
movement, as follows. 2 If God were the form of a movable
thing, since He is the first mover, the composite will be its
own mover. But that which moves itself can be moved and
not moved. Therefore it is in it to be either. Now a
thing of this kind has not of itself indefectibility of move-
ment. Therefore above that which moves itself we must
place something else as first mover, which confers on it
perpetuity of movement. And thus God Who is the first
mover is not the form of a body that moves itself.
This argument avails for those who hold the eternity of
movement. Yet if this be not granted the same conclusion
may be drawn from the regularity of the heavenly move-
ment. For just as that which moves itself can both be at
rest and be moved, so can it be moved with greater or less
velocity. Wherefore the necessity of uniformity in the
heavenly movement depends on some higher principle that
is altogether immovable, and that is not the part, through
being the form, of a body which moves itself.
The authority of Scripture is in agreement with this truth.
For it is written in the psalm : 3 Thy magnificence is elevated
above the heavens ; and (Job xi. 8, 9) : He is higher than
heaven, and what wilt thou do? . . . the measure of Him
is longer than the earth, and deeper 4 than the sea.
Hence we are able to refute the error of the pagans who
asserted that God was the soul of the heaven or even the
soul of the whole world: 5 which led them to defend the
idolatrous doctrine whereby they said that the whole world
was God, not in reference to the body but to the soul, even
as man is said to be wise in reference not to his body but
to his soul : which being supposed they deemed it to follow
1 Ch. xiii. a Cf. chs. xiii., xx. 3 Ps. viii. 2.
« Vulg., broader. 6 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. Hi., A. 8.
68 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
that divine worship is not unduly shown to the world and
its parts. The Commentator also says (Metaph. xi.) that
this occasioned the error of the Zabian people, i.e. of
idolaters, because, to wit, they asserted that God was the
soul of the heaven.
OF THE DIVINE PERFECTION
Now although things that exist and live are more perfect
than those which only exist, yet God Who is not distinct
from His own existence, is universally perfect being. 1 And
by universally perfect I mean that He lacks not the ex-
cellence of any genus.
For every excellence of any being whatsoever is ascribed
to a thing in respect of its being, since no excellence would
accrue to man from his wisdom, unless thereby he were
wise, and so on. Wherefore, according as a thing has
being, so is its mode of excellence : since a thing, according
as its being is contracted to some special mode of excellence
more or less great, is said to be more or less excellent.
Hence if there be a thing to which the whole possibility of
being belongs, no excellence that belongs to any thing can
be lacking thereto. Now to a thing which is its own being,
being belongs according to the whole possibility of being :
thus if there were a separate whiteness, nothing of the whole
possibility of whiteness could be wanting to it : because
something of the possibility of whiteness is lacking to a
particular white thing through a defect in the recipient of
whiteness, which receives it according to its mode and,
maybe, not according to the whole possibility of whiteness.
Therefore God, Who is His own being, as shown above, 2
has being according to the whole possibility of being itself :
and consequently He cannot lack any excellence that
belongs to any thing.
1 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. iv., A. 2. 2 Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XXVIII 69
And just as every excellence and perfection is in a thing
according as that thing is, so every defect is in a thing
according as that thing in some sense is not. Now just as
God has being wholly, so is not-being wholly absent from
Him, since according as a thing has being it fails in not-
being. Therefore all defect is removed from God, and con-
sequently He is universally perfect.
But those things which only exist are imperfect, not on
account of an imperfection in absolute being itself, for they
have not being according to its whole possibility, but
because they participate being in a particular and most im-
Again. Every imperfect thing must needs be preceded
by some perfect thing : for seed is from some animal or
plant. Wherefore the first being must be supremely per-
fect. Now it has been shown 1 that God is the first being.
Therefore He is supremely perfect.
Moreover. A thing is perfect in so far as it is in act,
and imperfect in so far as it is in potentiality and void of
act. Wherefore that which is nowise in potentiality but is
pure act, must needs be most perfect. Now such is God. 2
Therefore He is most perfect.
Further. Nothing acts except according as it is in act :
wherefore action follows upon the mode of actuality in the
agent; and consequently it is impossible for the effect that
results from an action to have a more excellent actuality
than that of the agent, although it is possible for the
actuality of the effect to be more imperfect than that of the
active cause, since action may be weakened on the part of
that in which it terminates. Now in the genus of efficient
cause we come at length to the one cause which is called
God, as explained above, 3 from Whom all things proceed,
as we shall show in the sequel. 4 Wherefore it follows that
whatever is actual in any other thing, is found in God much
more eminently than in that thing, and not conversely.
Therefore God is most perfect.
1 Ch. xiii. 2 Ch. xvi.
3 Ch. xiii. * Bk. II., ch. xv.
70 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Again. In every genus there is some thing most perfect
relatively to that genus, by which every thing in that genus
is measured : since every thing is shown to be more or less
perfect according as it approaches more or less to the
measure of that genus : thus white is said to be the measure
in all colours, and the virtuous among all men. 1 Now the
measure of all beings can be none other than God Who is
His own being. Therefore no perfection that belongs to
any thing is lacking to Him, otherwise He would not be the
universal measure of all.
Hence it is that when Moses sought to see the face of
God, the Lord answered him : / will show thee all good
(Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19), giving thus to understand that the
fulness of all good is in Him. And Dionysius says (Div.
Nom. v.) : God exists not in any single mode, but embraces
and prepossesses all being within Himself, absolutely and
It must however be observed that perfection cannot
fittingly be ascribed to God if we consider the meaning of
the word in respect of its derivation : since what is not
made, cannot seemingly be described as perfect. Yet since
whatever is made has been brought from potentiality to act,
and from not-being to being, when it was made ; it is rightly
described as perfect, i.e., completely made, when its poten-
tiality is completely reduced to act, so that it retains nothing
of not-being, and has complete being. Accordingly by a
kind of extension of the term, perfect is applied not only to
that which has arrived at complete act through being made,
but also to that which is in complete act without being made
at all. It is thus that we say that God is perfect, according
to Matt. v. 48 : Be ye perfect as also your heavenly Father
1 3 Ethic, iv. 5 ; v. 10.
CHAPTER XXIX 71
OF THE LIKENESS OF CREATURES
In sequence to the above we may consider in what way it
is possible to find in things a likeness to' God, and in what
way it is impossible. 1
For effects that fall short of their causes do not agree with
them in name and ratio, and yet there must needs be some
likeness between them, because it is of the nature of action
that a like agent should produce a like action, since every
thing acts according as it is in act. Wherefore the form of
the effect is found in its transcendent cause somewhat, but
in another way and another ratio, for which reason that
cause is called equivocal. For the sun causes heat in lower
bodies by acting according as it is in act ; wherefore the heat
generated by the sun must needs bear some likeness to the
sun's active power by which heat is caused in those lower
bodies and by reason of which the sun is said to be hot,
albeit in a different ratio. And thus it is said to be some-
what like all those things on which it efficaciously produces
its effects, and yet again it is unlike them all in so far as
these effects do not possess heat and so forth in the same
way as they are found in the sun. Thus also God bestows
all perfections on things, and in consequence He is both
like and unlike all.
Hence it is that Holy Writ sometimes recalls the like-
ness between Him and His creatures, as when it is said
(Gen. i. 26) : Let Us make man to Our image and likeness:
while sometimes this likeness is denied, according to the
words of Isa. xl. 18 : To whom then have you likened God;
or what image will you make for Him ? and of the psalm : a
O God, who shall be like to Thee?
Dionysius is in agreement with this argument, for he
says (Div. Nom. ix.) : The same things are like and unlike
to God; like, according as they imitate Him, as far as they
1 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. iv., A. 3. 2 Ps. lxxxii. 1.
72 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
can, Who is not perfectly imitable ; unlike, according as
effects fall short of their causes.
However, 1 according to this likeness, it is more fitting to
say that the creature is like God than vice versa. For one
thing is like another when it possesses a quality or form
thereof. Since then what is in God perfectly is found in
other things by way of an imperfect participation, that in
which likeness is observed is God's simply but not the
creature's. And thus the creature has what is God's, and
therefore is rightly said to be like God. But it cannot be
said in this way that God has what belongs to His creature :
wherefore neither is it fitting to say that God is like His
creature ; as neither do we say that a man is like his portrait,
although we declare that his portrait is like him.
And much less properly can it be said that God is
assimilated to the creature. For assimilation denotes move-
ment towards similarity, and consequently applies to one
that receives its similarity from another. But the creature
receives from God its similarity to Him, and not vice versa.
Therefore God is not assimilated to His creature, but rather
WHAT TERMS CAN BE PREDICATED OF GOD
Again in sequel to the above we may consider what can
and what cannot be said of God ; also what is said of Him
alone, and what is said of Him together with other beings.
For since every perfection of creatures is to be found in
God, albeit in another and more eminent way, whatever
terms denote perfection absolutely and without any defect
whatever, are predicated of God and of other things; for
instance, goodness, wisdom, and so forth. But any term
that denotes suchlike perfections together with a mode
proper to creatures, cannot be said of God except by
similitude and metaphor, whereby that which belongs to
1 Sum. Tli., l.c, ad 4.
CHAPTER XXX 73
one thing is applied to another, as when a man is said to
be a stone on account of the denseness of his intelligence.
Such are all those terms employed to denote the species of
a created thing, as man and stone: for its proper mode of
perfection and being is due to each species : likewise
whatever terms signify those properties of things that are
caused by the proper principles of the species, therefore
they cannot be said of God otherwise than metaphorically.
But those which express these perfections together with the
mode of supereminence in which they belong to God, are
said of God alone, for instance the sovereign good, the first
being, and the like.
Now, I say that some of the aforesaid terms denote per-
fection without defect, as regards that which the term is
employed to signify : for as regards the mode of signi-
fication every term is defective. For we express things by
a term as we conceive them by the intellect : and our intel-
lect, since its knowledge originates from the senses, does
not surpass the mode which we find in sensible objects,
wherein the form is distinct from the subject of the form,
on account of the composition of form and matter. Now in
those things the form is found to be simple indeed, but
imperfect, as being non-subsistent : whereas the subject of
the form is found to be subsistent, but not simple, nay more,
with concretion. Wherefore whatever our intellect signi-
fies as subsistent, it signifies it with concretion, and what-
ever it signifies as simple, it signifies it not as subsisting
but as qualifying. Accordingly in every term employed
by us, there is imperfection as regards the mode of signifi-
cation, and imperfection is unbecoming to God, although
the thing signified is becoming to God in some eminent
way : as instanced in the term goodness or the good: for
goodness signifies by way of non-subsistence, and the good
signifies by way of concretion. In this respect no term is
becomingly applied to God, but only in respect of that
which the term is employed to signify. Wherefore, as
Dionysius teaches, 1 such terms can be either affirmed or
1 Ctrl. Hier. ii. 3.
74 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
denied of God : affirmed, on account of the signification of
the term; denied, on account of the mode of signification.
Now the mode of supereminence in which the aforesaid per-
fections are found in God, cannot be expressed in terms
employed by us, except either by negation, as when we say
God is eternal or infinite, or by referring Him to other
things, as when we say that He is the first cause or the
sovereign good. For we are able to grasp, not what God
is, but what He is not, and the relations of other things to
Him, as explained above. 1
THAT THE DIVINE PERFECTION AND THE PLURALITY OF
DIVINE NAMES ARE NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THE DIVINE
From what has been said we are also able to see that the
divine perfection and the various names applied to God are
not inconsistent with His simplicity.
For we asserted that all the perfections to be found in
other things are to be ascribed to God in the same way as
effects are found in their equivocal causes : 2 which causes
are in their effects virtually, as heat is in the sun. Now
this virtue unless it were in some way of the genus of heat,
the sun acting thereby would not generate its like. Where-
fore by reason of this virtue the sun is said to be hot, not
only because it causes heat, but because the virtue whereby
it does this, is something in conformity with heat. Now
by this same virtue by which the sun causes heat, it causes
also many other effects in lower bodies, such as dryness.
And so heat and dryness, which are distinct qualities in fire,
are ascribed to the sun in respect of the one virtue. And
so too, the perfections of all things, which are becoming to
other things in respect of various forms, must needs be
ascribed to God in respect of His one virtue. And this
1 Ch. xiv. 2 Ch. xxix
CHAPTER XXXI 75
virtue is not distinct from His essence, since nothing can
be accidental to Him, as we have proved. 1 'Accordingly
God is said to be wise not only because He causes wisdom,
but because in so far as we are wise, we imitate somewhat
the virtue whereby He makes us wise. He is not however
called a stone, although He made the stones, because by the
term stone we understand a definite mode of being, in
respect of which a stone differs from God. 2 But a stone
imitates God as its cause, in respect of being, goodness and
so forth, even as other creatures do.
The like of this may be found in human cognitive powers
and operative virtues. For the intellect by its one virtue
knows all that the sensitive faculty apprehends by various
powers, and many other things besides. Again, the
intellect, the higher it is, the more things is it able to know
by means of one, while an inferior intellect can arrive at
the knowledge of those things only by means of many.
Again the royal power extends to all those things to which
the various subordinate powers are directed. And so too,
God by His one simple being possesses all manner of per-
fections, which in a much lower degree other things attain
by certain various means. Whence it is clear how it is
necessary to give several names to God. For since we
cannot know Him naturally except by reaching Him from
His effects, 3 it follows that the terms by which we denote
His perfection must be diverse, as also are the perfections
which we find in things. If however we were able to under-
stand His very essence as it is, and to give Him a proper
name, we should express Him by one name only : and this
is promised in the last chapter of Zacharias* to those who
will see Him in His essence : In that day there shall be one
Lord, and His name shall be one.
1 Ch. xxiii. 2 Cf. ch. xxx.
3 Cf. ch. xi. * xiv. 9.
76 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT NOTHING IS PREDICATED UNIVOCALLY OF GOD AND
From the above it is clear that nothing can be predicated
univocally of God and other things. For an effect which
does not receive the same form specifically as that whereby
the agent acts, cannot receive in a univocal sense the name
derived from that form : for the sun and the heat generated
from the sun are not called hot univocally. Now the forms
of things whereof God is cause do not attain to the species
of the divine virtue, since they receive severally and par-
ticularly that which is in God simply and universally. 1 It
is evident therefore that nothing can be said univocally of
God and other things.
Further. If an effect attain to the species of its cause,
the name of the latter will not be predicated of it univocally
unless it receive the same specific form according to the
same mode of being : for house in art is not univocally the
same as house in matter, since the form of house has an
unlike being in the one case and in the other. Now other
things, even though they should receive entirely the same
form, do not receive it according to the same mode of
being : because there is nothing in God that is not the
divine being itself, as shown above, 2 which does not apply
to other things. Therefore it is impossible for anything
to be predicated univocally of God and other things.
Moreover. Whatever is predicated of several things
univocally is either genus, or species, or difference, or
proper accident. Now nothing is predicated of God as
genus or as difference, as we have proved above, 3 and
consequently neither as definition nor as species, which
consists of genus and difference. Nor can anything be
accidental to Him, as was shown above, 4 and consequently
nothing is predicated of God, either as accidental or as
1 Chs. xxviii., xxix. 2 Ch. xxiii.
3 Chs. xxiv., xxv. * Ch. xxiii.
CHAPTER XXXII 77
proper, for the proper is a kind of accident. It follows
therefore that nothing is predicated of God and other things
Again. That which is predicated univocally of several
things is more simple than either of them, at least in our
way of understanding. Now nothing can be more simple
than God, either in reality or in our way of understanding.
Therefore nothing is predicated univocally of God and
Further. Whatever is predicated univocally of several
things belongs by participation to each of the things of
which it is predicated : for the species is said to participate
the genus, and the individual the species. But nothing is
said of God by participation, since whatever is participated
is confined to the mode of a participated thing, and thus is
possessed partially and not according to every mode of
perfection. It follows therefore that nothing is predicated
univocally of God and other things.
Again. That which is predicated of several things
according to priority and posteriority is certainly not pre-
dicated of them univocally, since that which comes first is
included in the definition of what follows, for instance
substance in the definition of accident considered as a
being. If therefore we were to say being univocally of
substance and accident, it would follow that substance also
should enter into the definition of being as predicated of
substance : which is clearly impossible. Now nothing is
predicated in the same order of God and other things, but
according to priority and posteriority : since all predicates
of God are essential, for He is called being because He is
very essence, and good because He is goodness itself :
whereas predicates are applied to others by participation ;
thus Socrates is said to be a man, not as though he were
humanity itself, but as a subject of humanity. Therefore
it is impossible for any thing to be predicated univocally
of God and other things.
78 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT NOT ALL TERMS APPLIED TO GOD AND CREATURES ARE
It is also clear from what has been said that things pre-
dicated of God and other things are not all pure equivoca-
tions, as are the effects of an equivocal cause. For in the
effects of an equivocal cause we find no mutual order or
relationship, and it is altogether accidental that the same
name is applied to various things ; since the name applied
to one does not signify that thing to have any relationship
to another. Whereas it is not so with the terms applied to
God and creatures : for in employing these common terms
we consider the order of cause and effect, as is clear from
what we have said. 1 Therefore certain things predicated
of God and other things are not pure equivocations.
Moreover. Where there is pure equivocation, we
observe no likeness of things, but merely sameness of
name. Now there is some kind of likeness of things to
God, as shown above. 2 Therefore it follows that they are
not said of God by pure equivocation.
Again. When one thing is predicated of several by pure
equivocation, we cannot be led from one to the knowledge
of the other, for the knowledge of things depends not on
words but on the meaning of names. Now we come to the
knowledge of things divine from our observation of other
things, as shown above. 3 Therefore the like are not pure
equivocations when said of God and other things.
Further. The use of equivocal terms breaks the con-
tinuity of an argument. Therefore if nothing were said of
God and creatures except by pure equivocation, no argu-
ment could be made by proceeding to God from creatures,
whereas the contrary is evidenced by all who speak of
Moreover. It is useless to predicate a name of a thing
unless By that name we understand something about that
1 Ch. xxxii. 2 Ch.xxix. 8 In various places.
CHAPTER XXXIV 79
thing. Now if names are predicated altogether equivocally
of God and creatures, we understand nothing of God by
those names : since the meanings of those names are known
to us only as applied to creatures. It would therefore be
to no purpose to prove about God that God is being, good,
or any thing else of the kind.
If, however, it be asserted that by suchlike terms we only
know of God what He is not, so that, to wit, He be called
living because He is not in the genus of inanimate beings,
and so forth, it follows at least that living when said of
God and creatures agrees in the negation of inanimate
being : and thus it will not be a pure equivocation.
THAT TERMS APPLIED TO GOD AND CREATURES ARE EMPLOYED
It follows, then, from what has been said 1 that those things
which are said of God and other things are predicated
neither univocally nor equivocally, but analogically, that is
according to an order or relation to some one thing.
This happens in two ways. First, according as many
things have a relation to some one thing : thus in relation
to the one health, an animal is said to be healthy as its
subject, medicine as effective thereof, food as preserving it,
and urine as its sign. Secondly, according as order or
relation of two things may be observed, not to some other
thing, but to one of them : thus being is said of substance
and accident, in so far as accident bears a relation to sub-
stance, and not as though substance and accident were
referred to a third thing.
Accordingly such names are not said of God and other
things analogically in the first way, for it would be neces-
sary to suppose something previous to God; but in the
Now in this analogical predication the relationship is
1 Chs. xxxii., xxxiii.
80 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
sometimes found to be the same both as to the name and
as to the thing, and sometimes it is not the same. For the
relationship of the name is consequent upon the relation-
ship of knowledge, since the name is the sign of intellec-
tual conception. Accordingly when that which comes first
in reality is found to be first also in knowledge, the same
thing is found to be first both as to the meaning of the name
and as to the nature of the thing : thus substance is prior
to accident both in nature, in as much as substance is the
cause of accident, and in knowledge, in as much as sub-
stance is placed in the definition of accident. Wherefore
being is said of substance previously to being said of acci-
dent, both in reality and according to the meaning of the
word. On the other hand, when that which comes first
according to nature, comes afterwards according to know-
ledge, then, in analogical terms, there is not the same order
according to the reality and according to the meaning of
the name : thus the healing power in health-giving (medi-
cines) is naturally prior to health in the animal, as cause is
prior to effect ; yet as we know this power through its effect,
we name it from that effect. Hence it is that health-giving is
first in the order of reality, and yet healthy is predicated of
animal first according to the meaning of the term.
Accordingly, since we arrive at the knowledge of God
from other things, the reality of the names predicated of
God and other things is first in God according to His mode,
but the meaning of the name is in Him afterwards. Where-
fore He is said to be named from His effects.
THAT THE SEVERAL NAMES PREDICATED OF GOD ARE NOT
From what we have said it is also proved tlhat, although
names predicated of God signify the same thing, they are
not synonymous, because they do not convey the same
CHAPTER XXXVI 81
For just as various things are by their various forms like
one simple thing which is God, so our intellect, by its
various conceptions, is somewhat like Him, in so far as
it is led to know Him by the various perfections of creatures.
Wherefore our understanding is neither false nor vain in
conceiving many things of one; because that simple divine
being is such that certain things can be likened to Him
according to their manifold forms, as we have proved
above. 1 And according to its various conceptions our
intellect devises various names which it applies to God.
Wherefore, since they are not applied with the same mean-
ing, it is clear that they are not synonymous, although they
signify a thing absolutely one : for the name has not the
same meaning, since it denotes the concept of the intellect
previously to the thing understood.
HOW OUR INTELLECT FORMS A PROPOSITION ABOUT GOD
From this it is moreover clear that our intellect does not
vainly form propositions about a simple God by composi-
tion and division, although God is altogether simple.
For although our intellect arrives at the knowledge of
God by various conceptions, as stated above, 2 it under-
stands that what corresponds to them all is absolutely one :
because our intellect does not ascribe its mode of under-
standing to the things which it understands, even as neither
does it ascribe immateriality to a stone, although it knows
it immaterially. Consequently it enunciates the unity of
the thing by a verbal composition implying identity, when
it says: God is good or is goodness: so that if there be
any diversity in the composition it is referred to the under-
standing, and unity to the thing understood. Similarly
sometimes our intellect forms a proposition about God with
an implication of diversity by inserting a preposition, as
1 Chs. xxix., xxxi. 2 Ch. xxxv.
82 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
when we say : Goodness is in God: because here we imply
both a certain diversity that is befitting the understanding,
and a certain unity which must be referred to the thing.
THAT GOD IS GOOD
The goodness of God may be concluded from His perfec-
tion which we have proved. 1
For that by reason of which a thing is said to be good
is its own virtue, since the virtue of any thing is that which
makes its subject good and renders its work good. 2 Now
virtue is a perfection: since we say that a thing is perfect
when it attains its proper virtue, as stated in 7 Phys. 5
Wherefore a thing is good from the fact of its being per-
fect : and consequently every thing desires its own perfec-
tion as its proper good. Now it has been proved 4 that God
is perfect. Therefore He is good.
Again. It has been proved above 5 that there is an
immovable first mover which is God. Now He moves as
a mover absolutely immovable : and this moves as the
object of desire. 6 Wherefore God, since He is the first
immovable mover, is the first object of desire. Now a
thing is desired in two ways, either because it is good, or
because it seems good. The former is that which is good,
for the seeming good does not move per se, but according
as it has some appearance of good ; whereas the good moves
per se. Therefore the first object of desire, Which is God,
Further. The good is that which all things desire, which
the Philosopher quotes as very well said. 7 Now all things
desire to be in act according to their mode : whicn is
evident from the fact that every thing, by its nature, shrinks
from corruption. Wherefore the essential notion of the
good is to be in act, and consequently evil which is opposed
1 Ch. xxviii. 8 2 Elhc. vi. 3 iii. 4. * I.e.
•"• Ch. xiii. 6 Ibid., Since, however, God ... p. 31. 7 1 Ethic, i.
CHAPTER XXXVIII 83
to good results from the privation of act by potentiality, as
the Philosopher declares (9 Metaph.). 1 Now God is a being
in act and not in potentiality, as we have proved above. 2
Therefore He is truly good.
Moreover. The bestowal of being and goodness pro-
ceeds from goodness. This is proved from the very nature
of the good, and from the notion it conveys. For the good
of a thing is naturally its act and perfection. Now a thing
acts through being in act : and by acting it bestows being
and goodness on other things. Wherefore it is a sign of
a thing's perfection that it is able to produce its like, as the
Philosopher declares (4 Meteor.). 3 Again, the notion of
the good is that it is something appetible : and this is an
end. And the end moves the agent to act. Hence good
is said to be diffusive of self and being.* Now, this
diffusion is becoming to God : for it has been shown above 5
that He is the cause of being in other things, since He is
the per se necessary being. Therefore He is truly good.
Wherefore it is said in the psalm : 6 How good is God to
Israel, to them that are of a right heart; and (Lam. iii. 25) :
The Lord is good to them that hope in Him, to the soul that
THAT GOD IS GOODNESS ITSELF
From the above we are able to conclude that God is His
For to be in act is for every thing its own good. Now,
God is not only being in act, but is His own being, as
proved above. 7 Therefore He is goodness itself and not
Further. The perfection of a thing is its goodness, as
we have shown above. 8 Now the perfection of the divine
being does not consist in something added thereto, but in
its being perfect in itself, as proved above. 9 Therefore
(L-£>. 8. ix. 2 Ch. xv. 3 iii. 1. « Dionvsius, Div. Nom. iv.
6 Ch. xiii. « Ps. lxxii. 1. 7 Ch. xxii.
8 Ch. xxxvii. 9 Ch. xxviii.
84 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
God's goodness is not something added to His essence, but
His essence is His goodness.
Again. Any good that is not its own goodness is good
by participation. Now that which is by participation
presupposes something antecedent to itself, from which it
derives the nature of goodness. But it is not possible to
continue thus to infinity : since in final causes there is no
proceeding to infinity, for the infinite is inconsistent with
finality : and the good has the nature of an end. We must
therefore come to some first good, that is good not by
participation in relation to something else, but by its
essence. Now this is God. Therefore God is His own
Again. That which is can participate something, but
being itself can participate nothing : because that which
participates is potentiality, whereas being is act. Now,
God is being itself, as we have proved. 1 Therefore He is
good not by participation, but essentially.
Moreover. In every simple thing, being and that which
is are one : for if they be distinct, there is no longer sim-
plicity. 2 Now, God is absolutely simple, as we have
proved. Therefore that He is good is not distinct from
Himself. Therefore He is His own goodness.
These same arguments show that nothing else is its own
goodness : hence it is said (Matth. xix. 17) : None is good
but God alone. 3
THAT NO EVIL CAN BE IN GOD
Hence it is manifestly apparent that evil cannot be in God.
For being and goodness and all essential predicates have
nothing besides themselves added to them, although that
which is or the good may have something besides being or
goodness : since nothing hinders the subject of one perfec-
tion being the subject of another besides; thus that which
is a body may be white and sweet : while every nature is
1 Ch. xxii. 2 Ch. xviii.
3 Vulg., One is good, God. Cf. Luke xviii. 19.
CHAPTER XXXIX 85
confined within the bounds of its essence, so that it admits
of nothing extraneous within itself. Now God is goodness
and not merely good, as we have proved above. 1 There-
fore nothing that is not goodness can be in Him : and con-
sequently evil can nowise be in Him.
Moreover. As long as a thing remains, that which is
contrary to its essence is altogether incompatible with that
thing : thus irrationality or insensibility is incompatible
with man unless he cease to be man. Now the divine
essence is goodness itself, as we have proved. 2 Therefore
evil which is contrary to good can have no place in God
unless He cease to be God : which is impossible, since He
is eternal, as was proved above. 3
Again. Since God is His own being, nothing can be
said of Him by participation, as is clear from the argument
given above. 4 If, then, evil were predicated of Him, it
would be a predicate not by participation, but by essence.
But evil cannot be predicated of any thing in such a way as
to be the essence of that thing : for it would lack being,
which is a good, as we have shown above : 5 and in evil there
can be no extraneous admixture, as neither can there be in
goodness. Therefore evil cannot be predicated of God.
Again. Evil is opposed to good. Now the notion of
good consists in perfection: 6 and therefore the notion of
evil consists in imperfection. Now defect or imperfection
cannot be in God, since He is universally perfect, as shown
above. 7 Therefore evil cannot be in God.
Further. A thing is perfect according as it is in act. 8
Therefore it will be imperfect according as it is deficient in
act. Therefore evil is either privation or includes priva-
tion. Now the subject of privation is a potentiality : and
this cannot be in God, 9 and consequently neither can
Moreover. If good is what is desired by all, 10 it follows
that evil as such is shunned by every nature. Now that
1 Ch. xxxviii. 2 Ibid. 3 Ch. xv. * Ch. xxxviii.
5 Ch. xxxvii. 6 Ibid. 7 Ch. xxviii. 8 Ibid.
9 Ch. xvi. 10 1 Ethic, i.
86 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
which is in a thing against the mode of its natural appetite
is violent and unnatural. Therefore evil in a thing is
violent and unnatural in so far as it is an evil to that thing,
although in composite things it may be natural thereto in
respect of some part. But God is not composite, nor can
anything be violent or unnatural in Him, as shown above. 1
Therefore evil cannot be in God.
This is moreover confirmed by Holy Writ. For it is
written in the canonical epistle of John : 2 God is light, and
in Him there is no darkness; and (Job xxxiv. 10) : Far
from God be wickedness, and iniquity from the Almighty.
THAT GOD IS THE GOOD OF EVERY GOOD 3
It is also proved from the foregoing that God is the good
of every good.* .
For the goodness of a thing is its perfection, as we have
stated. 6 Now, since God is simply perfect, He contains
in His perfection the perfections of all things, as we have
shown. 6 Therefore His goodness contains all goodnesses;
and consequently He is the good of every good.
Again. A thing is not said to have a quality by parti-
cipation, except in so far as it bears some resemblance to
that which is said to have that quality essentially : thus
iron is said to be fiery in so far as it partakes of a resem-
blance to fire. Now, God is good essentially, while all else
is good by participation, as we have proved. 7 Therefore
nothing is said to be good except in so far as it bears some
resemblance to the divine goodness. Therefore He is the
good of every good.
Further. Since a thing is desirable for the sake of an
end, and the aspect of good consists in its being desirable ; 8
it follows that a thing is said to be good, either because it
is an end, or because it is directed to an end. Therefore
1 Chs. xviii., xix. 2 i, i. 5. 3 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. vi., A. 4.
' Augustine, 8 De Triti. iii. 6 Ch. xxxvii.
6 Ch. xxviii. r Ch. xxxviii. 8 Ch. xxxvii.
CHAPTER XLI 87
the last end is that from which all things take the aspect
of good. Now this is God, as we shall prove further on. 1
Therefore God is the good of every good.
Hence the Lord in promising Moses that he should see
Him, said (Exod. xxxiii. 19): / will show thee all good.
And it is said of divine wisdom (Wis. viii.): 2 All good
things came to me together with her.
THAT GOD IS THE SOVEREIGN GOOD
From this it is proved that God is the sovereign good. For
the universal good stands far above any particular good,
even as the good of the nation is greater than the good of
an individual: 3 since the goodness and perfection of the
whole stand above the goodness and perfection of the part.
Now the divine goodness of God is compared to all other
things as the universal good to the particular, for He is
the good of every good, as we have proved. 4 Therefore
He is the sovereign good.
Moreover. That which is predicated essentially is said
more truly than that which is predicated by participation.
Now God is good by His essence ; and other things, by
participation, as shown above. 5 Therefore He is the
Again. The greatest in any genus is the cause of others
in that genus: 6 since the cause is greater than its effect.
Now all things derive their ratio of goodness from God, as
we have shown. 7 Therefore He is the sovereign good.
Moreover. Just as that is more white which has less
admixture of black, so that is better which has less admix-
ture of evil. Now God is most of all unmixed with evil,
since in Him there can be no evil, neither in act nor in
potentiality, and this becomes Him by His very nature, as
we have proved. 8 Therefore He is the sovereign good.
1 Bk. III., ch. xvii. 2 Vulg., vii. 11. 3 1 Ethic, ii. 8.
4 Ch. xl. 6 Ch. xxxviii. 6 ia Metaph. i. 5.
7 Ch. xl. 8 Ch. xxxix.
88 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Hence it is said (i Kings ii. 2) : There is none holy as the
THAT GOD IS ONE
Having proved the foregoing, it is manifest that there is
only one God.
For it is impossible that there be two sovereign goods :
since that which is ascribed to a thing by way of super-
abundance is to be found in one alone. Now God is the
sovereign good, as we have shown. 1 Therefore God is one.
Further. We have shown that God is absolutely per-
fect, 2 and that He lacks no perfection. If, then, there be
several gods, it follows that there are several suchlike perfect
things. But that is impossible : for if none of them lacks
any perfection, nor has any admixture of imperfection,
which is required for anything to be simply perfect, there
will be nothing by which they can be distinguished.
Therefore it is impossible that there be several gods.
Again. That which is sufficiently done if it be supposed
to be done by one, is better done by one than by many. 3
Now the order of things is the best possible : since the
potency of the first agent does not fail the potentiality of
things for perfection. And all things are sufficiently per-
fected by referring them to one first principle. Therefore
a plurality of principles is inadmissible.
Moreover. It is impossible for one continual and
regular movement to proceed from several movers. For
if they move together, none of them is a perfect mover, but
all together take the place of one perfect mover : which
does not apply to the first mover, since the perfect precedes
the imperfect. If, however, they move not together, each
of them is at one time moving, and at another time not;
whence it follows that the movement is neither continuous
nor regular : because movement that is continuous and one
is from one mover. Moreover a mover that is not always
1 Ch. xli. 2 Ch. xxviii. 3 8 Phys. vi. 4.
CHAPTER XLII 89
moving is found to move irregularly : as evidenced by
movers of lower degree, wherein violent movement is
intense at first and slackens at the end, while natural
movement is the reverse. On the other hand, the first
movement is one and continuous, as was proved by the
philosophers. 1 Therefore its first mover must needs be
Again. Corporeal substance is directed to spiritual sub-
stance as its good : for there is in the latter a fuller good-
ness to which corporeal substance seeks to be likened, since
whatever exists desires to attain the greatest good as far as
possible. Now all movements of the corporeal creature
are found to be reduced to one first movement, beside which
there is no other first movement not reducible to it. There-
fore beside the spiritual substance which is the end of the
first movement, there is no other that cannot be reduced to
it. Now under this name we understand God. Therefore
there is only one God.
Moreover. The mutual order of all diverse things that
are directed to each other is on account of their order
towards some one thing : even as the mutual order of the
parts of an army is on account of the order of the whole
army to the commander-in-chief. For that certain diverse
things be united together in some relationship, cannot
result from their own natures as distinct from one another,
because from this there would rather result distinction
among them. Nor can it result from different causes of
order : because these could not possibly of themselves as
differing from one another have one order in view.
Accordingly either the mutual order of many is accidental,
or it must be reduced to one first cause of that order, who
sets all in order towards the end which he intends. Now,
all the parts of this world are observed to be ordered to one
another, in so far as certain things are aided by certain
others : thus the lower bodies are moved by the higher, and
the latter by incorporeal substances, as shown above. 2
Nor is this accidental, since it happens always or for the
1 8 Phys. vii. seqq. 2 Chs. xiii., xx.
90 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
most part. Wherefore this world has but one director and
governor. But there is no other world besides this. There-
fore there is but one governor of the universe, and Him we
Again. If there be two things both of which are of
necessity, they must needs agree in the intention of the
necessity of being. It follows, therefore, that they must
be differentiated by something added either to one or to
both of them ; and consequently that either one is com-
posite, or both. Now no composite thing exists necessarily
per se, as we have proved above. 1 Therefore there cannot
possibly be several things each of which exists necessarily :
and consequently neither can there be several gods.
Moreover. That in which they differ, on the supposition
that they agree in the necessity of being, is either required
as a complement in some way to this necessity of being, or
is not required. If not, it follows that it is accidental :
because whatever is added to a thing, that has nothing to
do with its being, is an accident. Therefore this accident
has a cause. And this cause is either the essence of that
which exists of necessity, or something else. If it is its
essence, since the very necessity of being is its essence, as
shown above, 2 the necessity of being will be the cause of
that accident. But necessity of being is found in both.
Therefore both have that accident : and consequently are
not differentiated thereby. If, thowever, the cause of this
accident be something else, it follows that unless this some-
thing else exist, this accident would not exist. And with-
out this accident there would not be the aforesaid distinc-
tion. Therefore without that something else, these two
things that are supposed to exist of necessity would be
not two, but one. Therefore fhe proper being of both is
dependent on a third : and consequently neither of them
exists necessarily per se.
If, on the other hand, that in which they differ be neces-
sary as a complement to their necessity of being, this will
be either because it is included in the notion of the necessity
1 Ch. xviii. 2 Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XLII 91
of being, as animate is included in the definition of animal,
or because necessity of being is specified thereby as animal
is completed by rational. In the first case, it follows that
wherever there is necessity of being, there is that which is
included in its notion ; thus to whatever we can apply
animal we can apply animate. And thus, since we ascribe
necessity of being to both the aforesaid, they cannot be
differentiated thereby. In the second case, this is again
impossible. For the difference that specifies a genus does
not complete the generic idea, but the genus acquires
thereby being in act : because the notion of animal is com-
plete before the addition of rational, although animal can-
not be in act except it be either rational or irrational. Now,
this is impossible for two reasons. First, because the
quiddity of that which has being of necessity, is its being,
as we have proved above. 1 Secondly, because thus neces-
sary being would acquire being from something else : which
is impossible. Therefore it is impossible to have several
things each of which has necessary being per se.
Further. If there be two gods, this word god is predi-
cated of both either uni vocally or equivocally. If equivo-
cally, this is beside the present question : for nothing
prevents any thing receiving an equivocal name, if the
usual mode of speech allow. If, however, it be predicated
univocally, it must be said of both in the same sense : and
thus it follows that in both there is the same nature in com-
mon. Either, therefore, this nature is in both according to
the same being, or else it is according to different beings.
If according to one being, it follows that they are not two
but only one : for two things have not one being if they
differ substantially. If, however, there is a different being
in both, the quiddity of neither will be its own being. But
we must admit this to be the case in God, as we have
proved. 2 Therefore neither of them is what we understand
by the name of God, and consequently it is impossible to
admit the existence of two gods.
Again. None of the things that belong to a particular
1 Ch. xviii. 2 Ibid.
92 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
signate thing as such, can possibly belong to another :
because the singularity of a particular thing belongs to no
other but the singular thing itself. Now, its necessity of
being belongs to that which is of necessity in as much as
it is this signate thing. Therefore it cannot possibly
belong to any other thing : and thus it is impossible that
there be several things each of which exists of necessity.
Therefore it is impossible that there be several gods.
Proof of the middle proposition : If that which is of
necessity is not this signate thing as being of necessity, it
follows that the designation of its being is not necessary
in itself, but depends on something else. Now a thing
according as it is in act is distinct from all else, and this is
to be this signate thing. Therefore that which is of neces-
sity depends on something else for being in act : and this
is contrary to the notion of that which is of necessity.
Therefore that which is of necessity must be of necessity
according as it is this signate thing.
Again. The nature signified by this word God is in-
dividualized either by itself in this God or by something
else. If by something else there must be composition
therein. If by itself, it follows that it cannot be applied
to another : for that which is the principle of individualiza-
tion cannot be common to several. Therefore it is impos-
sible that there be several gods.
Moreover. If there be several gods, it follows that the
divine nature is not identically the same in each. There-
fore there must be something to distinguish the divine
nature is this one and that one. But this is impossible :
since the divine nature receives no addition whether of
essential or of accidental differences, as proved above r 1 nor
is the divine nature the form of any matter, 2 so as to be
divided as the matter is divided. Therefore there cannot
possibly be several gods.
Again. The being proper to each thing is but one.
Now God is Himself His very being, as shown above. 3
Therefore there can be but one God.
1 Chs. xxiii., xxiv. 2 Ch. xxvii. :! Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XLII 93
Further. A thing has being according as it has unity :
wherefore every thing shuns division so far as it can, lest
it thus tend to not-being. But the divine nature surpasses
all in having being. Therefore there is supreme unity
therein. Therefore it is nowise divided into several.
Moreover. We observe that in every genus multitude
proceeds from some kind of unity : wherefore in every
genus we find one first thing, which is the measure of all
things found in that genus. Hence whatever things we
find agreeing in one point, must proceed from some one
principle. Now all things agree in the point of being.
Therefore that which is the principle of all things must
needs be one only : and this is God.
Again. In every government he who presides desires
unity, Wherefore the chief form of government is a
monarchy or kingdom. And of our many members there
is one head : and this is an evident sign that unity is due
to whom headship is becoming. Wherefore we must con-
fess that God, Who is the cause of all, is simply one.
We can moreover infer this confession of the divine unity
from the sacred oracles. For it is said (Deut. vi. 4) : Hear,
O Israel, the Lord thy 1 God is one; and (Exod. xx. 3) :
Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me; and
(Eph. iv. 5) : One Lord, one faith, etc.
By this truth the heathens who believe in many gods are
refuted. And yet several of them affirmed the existence of
one supreme god, by whom they asserted that the others
whom they called gods were caused, for they ascribed the
godhead to all eternal substances, especially by reason of
wisdom, felicity and governance of the universe. This
mode of expression is found even in Holy Writ, where
holy angels or men or judges are called gods, as in the
words of the psalm : 2 There is none among the gods like
unto Thee, O Lord, and again : 3 I have said: You are
gods: and many like passages are found throughout
Wherefore the Manichees would seem yet more opposed
1 Vulg., our. 2 p s> bcxxv. 8. 3 Ps. lxxxi. 6.
94 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
to this truth, since they assert two first principles, the one
of which is not the cause of the other.
The Arians too impugned this truth by their errors,
since they asserted that the Father and the Son are not one
but distinct gods, and yet were compelled by the authority
of Scripture to confess that the Son is true God.
THAT GOD IS INFINITE
Now while the infinite is a sequel of quantity, as philoso-
phers teach, 1 infinity cannot be ascribed to God in respect
of multitude, seeing that it has been proved that there is but
one God, 2 and that there is no composition either of parts
or of accidents in Him. 3 Nor may we say that He is in-
finite in respect of continuous quantity, since we have shown
that He is incorporeal. 4 It remains therefore to inquire
whether infinity is becoming to Him in respect of spiritual
This spiritual magnitude is referable to two things :
namely to power, and to the goodness or perfection of a
thing's very nature. For a thing is said to be more or less
white according to the degree of perfection in its whiteness.
And the magnitude of power is gauged from the magnitude
of deeds or of things made. Now in these things the mag-
nitude of one follows the magnitude of the other, because
from the very fact that a thing is in act it is active, and
consequently according to the degree in which it is perfected
in its act, is the degree of magnitude in its power. Where-
fore spiritual things are said to be great according to their
degree of perfection : for Augustine says that in things
which are great not by bulk, to be great is to be good. 6
'Accordingly we have to show that God is infinite accord-
ing to this kind of magnitude. Not, however, so that
infinite be understood privatively, as in dimensive or
1 i Phys. ii. 10. 2 Ch. xlii. 3 Chs. xviii., xxiii.
4 Ch. xx. R Dc Trin. vi. 8.
CHAPTER XLIII 95
numeral quantity, for a quantity of this kind is naturally
finite, so that we speak of infinity by subtraction of that
which it has by nature, and for this reason infinity in those
quantities denotes imperfection. But in God the infinite is
understood only negatively, because there is no bound or
end to His perfection, and He is the supremely perfect
being : and it is thus that the infinite should be ascribed to
For whatever is finite by its nature is confined to some
generic notion. Now God is in no genus, and His perfec-
tion contains the perfections of all genera, as we have shown
above. 1 Therefore He is infinite.
Moreover. Every act inherent to something else receives
its limitation from that in which it is : since that which is
in another is in it according to the mode of the recipient.
Wherefore an act that exists in no subject has no limita-
tions : for instance, if whiteness were per se existent, the
perfection of whiteness therein would not be limited from
having whatever it is possible to have of the perfection of
whiteness. Now God is an act nowise existing in another :
because neither is He form in matter, as we have proved, 2
nor is His being inherent to any form or nature, since He is
His own being, as we have shown above. 3 Therefore it
follows that He is infinite.
Again. In things we find something that is pure poten-
tiality,' as primary matter ; something that is pure act,
namely God, as we have shown above ; 4 and something that
is act and potentiality, namely other things. Now as poten-
tiality, since it bears relation to an act, cannot exceed that
act in any particular thing, so neither can it simply. There-
fore, since primary matter is infinite in its potentiality, it
follows that God, Who is pure act, is infinite in His
Again. An act is the more perfect, according as it is less
mingled with potentiality. Wherefore every act that has an
admixture of potentiality has a limit to its perfection : while
the act which has no admixture of potentiality has no limit
1 Chs. xxv., xxviii. 2 Chs. xxvi., xxvii. 3 Ch. xxii. 4 Ch. xvi.
96 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
to its perfection. Now God is pure act without any poten-
tiality, as we have proved above. 1 Therefore He is infinite.
Again. Being itself, considered absolutely, is infinite;
for it can be participated by an infinite number of things in
an infinite number of ways. Hence if we take a thing with
finite being, this being must be limited by some other thing
which is in some way the cause of that being. Now there
can be no cause of God's being, since He is necessary of
Himself. 2 Therefore He has infinite being, and Himself is
Moreover. Whatever has a particular perfection is the
more perfect according as it more fully participates that
perfection. Now there cannot be, nor even be imagined,
a way in which a perfection is possessed more fully, than by
that which is perfect by its essence, and whose being is its
goodness : and such is God. Therefore in no way can any-
thing be imagined better or more perfect than God. There-
fore He is perfect in goodness.
Further. Our intellect reaches the infinite in understand-
ing : a sign of which is that given any finite quantity, our
intellect can imagine a greater. Now it would be to no
purpose for the intellect to be thus directed to the infinite
unless there were infinite intelligible being. Therefore there
must be some infinite intelligible thing, which must needs
be the greatest of all beings : and this we call God. There-
fore God is infinite.
Again. An effect cannot extend beyond its cause. Now
our intellect cannot be but from God, Who is the first cause
of all things. Therefore our intellect cannot think of any-
thing greater than God. If then it is possible to think of
something greater than every finite thing, it follows that
God is not finite.
Moreover. Infinite power cannot be in a finite essence :
because everything acts by its form, which is either its
essence or part thereof : and power denotes a principle of
action. But God has not a finite active power : for He
moves in infinite time, and this cannot be save from an
1 Ch. xvi. 2 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XLIII 97
infinite power, as we have shown above. 1 Therefore it
follows that God's essence is infinite. This argument,
however, avails for those who hold to the eternity of the
world : and if this be not supposed, our opinion about the
infinity of the divine power is confirmed yet more. Foi
every agent is the more powerful to act according as it
reduces to act .a potentiality the further removed from act :
thus a greater power is needed to heat water than air. Now
that which is not at all, is infinitely distant from act, nor is
it in any way in potentiality. Wherefore, if the world was
made after previously not being at all, the maker's power
rriust needs be infinite.
This argument, even for those who hold to the eternity of
the world, avails to prove the infinity of the divine power.
For they confess that God is the cause of the substance of
the world, although they aver that it is eternal, since they
say that the eternal God is the cause of an eternal world in
the same way as a foot would have been from eternity the
cause of a footprint, if it had trod on the dust from eternity. 2
Now this opinion being presupposed, it follows none the
less from the argument stated above, that the power of God
is infinite. For whether He fashioned things from time, as
we hold, or from eternity, as they maintain, there cannot be
in things anything that He has not produced, since He is
the universal sourse of being : and so He produced them
without any pre-existing matter or potentiality. Now
active power must needs be in proportion to passive poten-
tiality ; because the greater the passive potentiality that is
pre-existent or presupposed, the greater the active power
which completes its actuality. Hence it follows, since a
finite power produces an effect if we presuppose the poten-
tiality of matter, that God's power, which presupposes no
potentiality, is not finite but infinite : and that consequently
His essence is infinite.
Moreover. A thing lasts so much the longer as its cause
is more efficacious. Consequently, a thing which is of in-
finite duration must have being through a cause of infinite
1 Ch. xx. 2 Cf. Augustine, De Civ. Dei x. 31.
98 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
efficacy. Now God is of infinite duration, for it has been
shown above 1 that He is eternal. Since then He has no cause
of His being besides Himself, it follows that He is infinite.
The authority of Holy Writ bears witness to this truth ;
for the psalmist says : 2 Great is the Lord and greatly to be
praised : and of His greatness there is no end.
The same truth is attested by the statements of the oldest
philosophers, since all of them, compelled as it were by truth
itself, asserted that the first principle of things is infinite. 3
For they knew not what they said, believing the infinity of
the first principle to be after the manner of a discrete quan-
tity, as Democritus maintained, asserting an infinite number
of atoms to be the principles of things, and as Anaxagoras
held, stating that the principles of things are an infinite
number of similar parts ; or after the manner of continuous
quantity, as those who held that some element, or some
undefined infinite body, is the first principle of all. But
since it was proved by the researches of subsequent philo-
sophers that there is no infinite body, and if to this we add
that the first principle must needs be infinite in some way,
it follows that the infinite which is the first principle is
neither a body nor a power residing in a body. 4
THAT GOD IS AN INTELLIGENT BEING
It may be shown from the above that God is an intelligent
For it was proved 5 that it is impossible to proceed to
infinity in movers and things moved, and that all things
moved must be reduced, as is probable, to one self-moving
principle. Now a self-mover moves itself by appetite and
apprehension : for suchlike things alone are found to move
themselves, since it is in them to be moved and not to be
moved. Wherefore the moving part in the first self-mover
1 Ch. xv. 2 Ps. cxliv. 3. 3 3 Phvs. iv.
* Cf. ch. xx. 5 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XLIV 99
must needs be appetitive and apprehensive. Now in that
movement which is by appetite and apprehension, the
appetent and apprehender is a moved mover, while
appetible and apprehended is a mover not moved.
Since then that which is the first mover of all, which we
call God, is a mover altogether unmoved, it follows that it
is compared to the motor which is a part of the self-mover
as the appetible to tKe appetent. Not, however, as the
appetible to fhe sensitive appetite, because the sensitive
appetite is not of the good simply, but of this particular
good, since also sensitive apprehension is only of the par-
ticular; and that which is good and appetible simply, is
prior to that which is good and appetible here and now.
Therefore the first mover must be the appetible as an object
of the understanding : and consequently the mover that
desires itself must be an intelligent being. Much more
therefore is the very first appetible an intelligent being;
because that which desires it becomes actually understand-
ing through being united to it as an intelligible object.
Therefore it follows that God is intelligent, if it be supposed
that the first mover moves itself, as the early philosophers
Again. The same conclusion follows necessarily, if
movable things be reduced not to some first self-mover, but
to a mover that is utterly immovable. For the first mover
is the universal principle of movement. Wherefore, since
every mover moves by some form which it intends in
moving, it follows that the form by which the first mover
moves must be universal form and universal good. Now
a form is not found under conditions of universality save
in the intellect. Therefore the first mover, which is God,
must be intelligent.
Moreover. In no order of movers do we find that a
mover by the intellect is the instrument of that which moves
without intellect; but rather the opposite. Now all movers
that are in the world, are compared to the first mover which
is God, as instruments to the principal agent. Since then
we find in the world many movers by intellect, it is im-
ioo THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
possible that the first mover move without intellect. There-
fore God must of necessity be intelligent.
Again. A thing is intelligent from the fact of its being
without matter : in sign of which forms become understood
by being abstracted from matter. Hence also understand-
ing is of universals and not of singulars, because matter is
the principle of individualization. Now forms actually under-
stood become one with the intellect actually understanding.
Wherefore, if forms are actually understood from the very
fact that they are without matter, it follows that a thing is
actually intelligent from the fact that it is without matter.
Now it was shown above 1 that God is absolutely imma-
terial. Therefore He is intelligent.
Again. God lacks no perfection that is to be found in
any genus of things, as we have proved above : 2 nor does
it follow from this that there is any composition in Him,
as was also shown above. 3 Now the greatest among the
perfections of things is that a thing is intellectual, because
thereby it is, after a fashion, all things, having in itself
the perfection of all. 4 Therefore God is intelligent.
Moreover. Whatever tends definitely to an end, either
prescribes that end to itself, or that end is prescribed to it
by another : else it would not tend to this end rather than
to that. Now natural things tend to definite ends, for they
do not pursue their natural purposes by chance, since in that
case those purposes would not be realized always or for the
most part, but seldom, for of such is chance. Since then
they do not prescribe the end to themselves, for they do not
apprehend the notion of end, it follows that the end is pre-
scribed to them by another, Who is the author of nature.
This is He Who gives being to all, and Who necessarily
exists of Himself, Whom we call God, as shown above. 5
Now He would be unable to prescribe nature its end unless
He were intelligent. Therefore God is intelligent.
Moreover. Whatever is imperfect originates from some-
thing perfect : because the perfect naturally precedes the
1 Chs. xvii., xx., xxvii. 2 Ch. xxviii. 3 Ch. xxxi.
4 3 De Anima viii. i. 5 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER XLV 101
imperfect, as act precedes potentiality. Now the forms
that exist in particular things are imperfect, since their exist-
ence is limited and does not extend to the full universality
of their nature. Wherefore they must needs originate from
certain perfect and not limited forms. Now such forms are
impossible except as an object of the understanding, since
no form is found in a state of universality except in the
intellect. Consequently those forms must be intelligent if
they are subsistent, for in no other way can they be opera-
tive. Therefore it follows that God Who is the first sub-
sistent act, from which all others derive, is intelligent.
The Catholic faith confesses this truth. For it is said of
God (Job ix. 4) : He is wise in heart and mighty in strength;
and (xii. 16) : With Him is strength and wisdom ; and in the
psalm: 1 Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me; and
(Rom. xi. 33) : O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and
of the knowledge of God!
The truth of this belief took such hold on men that they
named God from understanding : for ©eo?, which is the
Greek for God, is derived from OedaOai, which means to con-
sider or to see.
THAT GOD'S ACT OF INTELLIGENCE IS HIS ESSENCE
From the fact that God is intelligent it follows that His act
of intelligence is His essence.
For intelligence is the act of an intelligent being, existing
within that being and not passing on to something outside
of it, as heating passes into the thing heated : for the intel-
ligible suffers nothing through being understood, but the
one who understands is perfected. Now whatever is in God
is the divine essence. 2 Therefore God's act of intelligence
is the divine essence, the divine existence, and God Him-
self : since God is His essence and His existence. 3
Further. The act of intelligence is compared to the in-
1 Ps. cxxxviii. 6. 2 Ch. xxiii. 3 Chs. xxi., xxii.
102 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
tellect as existence to essence. But God's existence is His
essence, as proved above. 1 Therefore God's act of intelli-
gence is His intellect. Now the divine intellect is God's
essence, otherwise it would be accidental to God. 2 There-
fore the divine act of intelligence must needs be His
Moreover. Second act is more perfect than first act, even
as consideration is more perfect than knowledge. Now
God's knowledge or intellect is His very essence, if He is
intelligent as shown above : 3 since no perfection belongs to
Him by participation, but by essence, as already proved. 4
If, therefore, His act of consideration be not His essence,
something will be more noble and perfect than His essence.
And thus He will not be in the summit of perfection and
goodness : 6 and consequently He will not be first.
Again. Intelligence is the act of the intelligent. If then
God being intelligent is not His act of intelligence, He must
be compared to it as potentiality to act : and so there will
be potentiality and act in God ; which is impossible, as we
have proved above. 8
Again. Every substance is for the sake of its operation.
If therefore God's operation is other than the divine sub-
stance, His end will be other than Himself. And thus God
will not be His own goodness, since the good of a thing is
its end. 7
If, however, God's act of intelligence is His existence, His
act of intelligence must be simple, eternal, unchangeable,
existing only in act, and all those things which have been
proved about the divine existence. Wherefore God is not
in potentiality to intelligence, nor does He begin to under-
stand a thing anew, nor is His act of intelligence subject
to any change or composition whatsoever.
1 Ch. xxii. 2 Cf. ch. xxiii. 3 Ch. xliv.
* Ch. xxiii. 6 Cf. ch. xxviii. fl Ch. xvi
7 Cf. Chs. xxxvii., xxxviii.
CHAPTER XLVI 103
THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS BY NOTHING ELSE THAN HIS ESSENCE
From what has been proved above it is made evident that
the divine intellect understands by no other intelligible
species but the divine essence.
For the intelligible species is the formal principle of the
intellectual operation ; even as the form of every agent is the
principle of that agent's proper operation. Now the intel-
lectual operation of God is His essence, as we have shown. 1
Wherefore something else would be the principle and cause
of the divine essence, if the divine intellect understood by
some intelligible species other than His essence : and this is
in contradiction with what has been shown above. 2
Again. The intellect is made actually intelligent by the
intelligible species : just as sense is made actually sentient
by the sensible species. Hence the intelligible species is
compared to the intellect as act to potentiality. And conse-
quently if the divine intellect were to understand by a
species other than itself, it would be in potentiality with
respect to something : and this is impossible, as we have
proved above. 3
Moreover. An intelligible species that is accessory to the
essence of the intellect in which it is, has an accidental
being : for which reason our knowledge is reckoned among
the accidents. Now in God there can be no accident, as
proved above. 4 Therefore there is no species in His intel-
lect besides the divine essence.
Further. An intelligible species is the image of some-
thing understood. Wherefore if in the divine intellect
there be an intelligible species besides its essence, it will be
the image of something understood. Either, therefore, it
will be the image of the divine essence or of some other
thing. But it cannot be the image of the divine essence :
for then the divine essence would not be intelligible by
1 Ch. xlv. 2 Ch. xiii. 3 Ch. xvi. 4 Ch. xxiii.
io4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
itself, and this species would make it intelligible. Nor
again can there be in the divine intellect a species distinct
from its essence and representative of some other thing.
For this image would be imprinted thereon by something.
Not however by the divine intellect itself, because then the
same thing would be agent and patient : and there would be
an agent which imprints not its own but another's image
on the patient, and thus not every agent would produce its
like. Nor again by another : for then there would be an
agent previous to the divine intellect. Therefore there
cannot possibly be in it an intelligible species besides its
Moreover. God's act of intelligence is His essence, as
we have proved. 1 Therefore if He understood by a species
that is not His essence, it would be by something other than
His essence. But this is impossible. 2 Therefore He does
not understand by a species that is not His essence.
CHAPTER XL VII
THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS HIMSELF PERFECTLY
It is furthermore clear from the above that God understands
For since the intellect is directed by the intelligible
species to the thing understood, the perfection of intellec-
tual operation depends on two things. One is that the
intelligible species be perfectly conformed to the thing
understood. The other is that it be perfectly united to the
intellect ; and this is all the more so, according as the
intellect is endowed with greater efficacy in understanding.
Now the divine essence which is the intelligible species
whereby the divine intellect understands, is absolutely the
same as God Himself, and is altogether identified with
His intellect. Therefore God understands Himself most
1 Ch. xlv. 2 Ch. xxii.
CHAPTER XL VII 105
Further. A material thing is made intelligible by being
abstracted from matter and from material conditions.
Wherefore that which by its nature is severed from matter
and from material conditions, is by its very nature intel-
ligible. Now every intelligible is understood according as
it is actually one with the intelligent : and God is Himself
intelligent, as we have proved. 1 Therefore since He is
altogether immaterial, and is absolutely one with Himself,
He understands Himself most perfectly.
Again. A thing is actually understood through the
unification of the intellect in act and the intelligible in act.
Now the divine intellect is always intellect in act : since
nothing is in potentiality and imperfect in God. And
God's essence is by itself perfectly intelligible, as shown
above. Since, then, the divine intellect and the divine
essence are one, as stated above, 2 it is evident that God
understands Himself perfectly : for God is both His own
intellect and His own essence.
Moreover. Whatever is in anyone in an intelligible
manner, is understood by him. Now the divine essence is
in God in an intelligible manner : for God's natural being
and His intelligible being are one and the same, since His
being is His act of intelligence. 3 Therefore God under-
stands His essence. Therefore He understands Himself,
since He is His very essence.
Further. The acts of the intellect, as of the other powers
of the soul, are distinguished according to their objects.
Hence the more perfect the intelligible, the more perfect
will the operation of the intellect be. Now the most perfect
intelligible is the divine essence, since it is the most per-
fect act and the first truth. And the operation of the divine
intellect is also the most excellent, since it is the divine
being itself, as we have shown. 4 Therefore God under-
Again. All the perfections of things are found eminently
in God. 6 Now among other perfections found in created
1 Ch. xliv. 2 Ch. xlv. 3 Ibid.
* Ibid. 5 Ch. xxviii.
106 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
things is that of understanding God : since the intellectual
nature whose perfection it is to understand stands above
others : and God is the most excellent intelligible. There-
fore God, most of all, understands Himself.
This is confirmed by divine authority. For the Apostle
says (i Cor. ii. 10) that the Spirit of God searcheth . . .
the deep things of God.
THAT GOD KNOWS ONLY HIMSELF FIRST AND PER SE
From the foregoing it follows that God first and per se
knows Himself alone.
For that thing alone is known first and per se by whose
species the intellect understands, because the operation is
proportionate to the form which is the principle of the
operation. Now that by which God understands is
nothing else than His essence, as we have proved. 1 There-
fore that which is understood by Him first and per se is
nothing else than Himself.
Again. It is impossible to understand simultaneously
several things first and per se: since one operation cannot
terminate simultaneously in several things. Now God
understands Himself sometimes, as we have proved. 2
Therefore if He understands something else by way of an
object understood first and per se, it follows that His intel-
lect is changed from consideration to consideration of that
thing. But this thing is less excellent than He. There-
fore the divine intellect would be changed for the worse :
which is impossible.
Moreover. The operations of the intellect are dis-
tinguished in relation to their objects. If, therefore, God
understands Himself and something other than Himself as
principal object, He will have several intellectual opera-
tions. Therefore either His essence will be divided into
1 Ch. xlvi. . a Ch. xlvii.
CHAPTER XLVIII 107
several parts, or He will have an intellectual operation that
is not His substance : both of which have been proved to be
impossible. 1 Therefore it follows that nothing is known
by God as understood first and per se, except His essence.
Again. The intellect, in so far as it is distinct from the
object of its intelligence, is in potentiality in its regard. If
then something else is understood by God first and per se,
it will follow that He is in potentiality in respect of some-
thing else : and this is impossible as we have shown above. 2
Further. The thing understood is the perfection of the
one who understands : because the intellect is perfect in so
far as it actually understands ; and this is through its being
one with the thing understood. Therefore if something
other than God be first understood by Him, something else
will be His perfection and more excellent than He. But
this is impossible.
Moreover. The knowledge of one who understands is
the product of many things understood. Accordingly if
many things are known by God as known principally and
per se, it follows that God's knowledge is composed of
many : and thus either God's essence will be composite, or
knowledge will be accidental to God. But either of these
is clearly impossible from what has been said. 3 It remains,
therefore, that that which is understood by God first and
per se is nothing else than His substance.
Further. The intellectual operation takes its species and
excellence from that which is understood first and per se ;
since this is its object. If therefore God understood a thing
other than Himself, as though it were understood first and
per se, His intellectual operation would derive its species
and excellence from that which is other than Himself. But
this is impossible : since His operation is His essence, as
we have shown. 4 It is accordingly impossible for that
which God understands first and per se to be other than
1 Chs. xviii., xxiii., xlv. 2 Ch. xvi.
3 Chs. xviii., xxiii., xlv. * Ch. xlv.
108 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT GOD KNOWS THINGS OTHER THAN HIMSELF
From the fact that God knows Himself first and per se, we
must conclude that He knows things other than Himself
For the knowledge of an effect is sufficiently obtained
from knowledge of the cause : Wherefore we are said to
know a thing when we know its cause. 1 Now God by His
essence is the cause of being in other things. Since there-
fore He knows His own essence most fully, we must con-
clude that He knows other things also.
Further. The likeness of every effect pre-exists some-
what in its cause : since every agent produces its like.
Now whatever is in something else, is therein according to
the mode of the thing in which it is. If, therefore, God is
the cause of certain things, since by His nature He is in-
tellectual, the likeness of His effect will be in Him intel-
ligibly. Now that which is in a subject intelligibly, is
understood thereby. Therefore God understands things
other than Himself in Himself.
Moreover. Whoever knows a thing perfectly, knows
whatever can be said truly of that thing, and whatever is
becoming thereto by its nature. Now it is becoming to
God by His nature to be the cause of other things. Since
then He knows Himself perfectly, He knows that He is a
cause : and this is impossible unless He knows His effect
somewhat. Now this is something other than Himself, for
nothing is cause of itself. Therefore God knows things
other than Himself.
Accordingly taking these two conclusions together, 2 it
is evident that God knows Himself as the first and per se
object of His knowledge, and other things as seen in His
This truth is explicitly declared by Dionysius (Div.
Nom. vii.) as follows : He looks upon singulars not by
1 i Poster. Anal. ii. i. 2 Cf. ch. xlviii.
CHAPTER L 109
casting His eye on each one, but He knows all things
as one, contained in their cause; and further on: Divine
wisdom knows other things by knowing itself.
Moreover the authority of Holy Writ apparently bears
witness to the same statement. For in the psalm 1 it is said
of God : He hath looked forth from His high sanctuary, as
though He saw other things from His exalted self.
THAT GOD HAS PROPER KNOWLEDGE OF ALL THINGS
Since however some 2 have said that God has none but a
universal knowledge of other things, in the sense that He
knows them as beings, through knowing the nature of
being from His knowledge of Himself; it remains to be
shown that God knows all other things, as distinct from
one another and from God. This is to know things by
their proper ideas.
In evidence of this let us suppose that God is the cause
of every being, which is clear to a certain extent from what
has been said above, 3 and will be more fully proved further
on. 4 Accordingly then there can be nothing in a thing
without its being caused by Him indirectly or directly.
Now if the cause be known its effect is Known. Wherefore
all that is in anything whatsoever can be known if God be
known as well as all the causes intervening between God
and that thing. Now God knows Himself and all the
causes that intervene between Him and any thing what-
ever. For it has been shown already that He knows Him-
self perfectly. 6 !&nd through knowing Himself He knows
whatever proceeds from Him immediately : and again
through knowing this, He knows whatever proceeds there-
from immediately, and so on as regards every intervening
cause until the ultimate effect. Therefore God knows
whatever is in a thing. Now this is to have proper and
1 Ps. ci. 20.*" 2 Averroes, 12 Metaph. 51. 3 Ch. xiii.
* Bk. II., ch. xv. 5 Ch. xlvii.
no THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
complete knowledge of a thing, namely, to know whatever
is in a thing, whether common or proper. Therefore God
has proper knowledge of things, according as they are
distinct from one another.
Further. Whatever acts by intellect, has knowledge of
what it does, as regards the proper idea of the thing done :
because the knowledge of the doer appoints the form to the
thing done. Now God is cause of things by His intellect :
since His being is His act of intelligence, and every thing
acts in so far as it is actual. Therefore He knows His
effect properly, according as it is distinct from others.
Moreover. The distinction of things cannot arise from
chance, for it has a fixed order. Hence it follows that the
distinction among things proceeds from the intention of
some cause. But it cannot proceed from the intention of
a cause that acts from natural necessity : because nature is
determined to one thing, so that nothing that acts from
natural necessity can have an intention in relation to several
things considered as distinct from one another. It remains
therefore that the distinction among things arises from the
intention of a cause endowed with Knowledge. Now it
would seem proper to an intellect to consider the distinction
among things : wherefore Anaxagoras 1 declared that an
intellect was the principle of distinction. But taken as a
whole the distinction of things cannot proceed from the
intention of any second cause, since all such causes are
included in the universality of distinct effects. Wherefore
it belongs to the first cause, which is of itself distinct from
all others, to intend the distinction among all things.
Therefore God knows things as distinct.
Again. Whatsoever God knows, He knows most per-
fectly : for in Him are all perfections as in that which is
simply perfect, as shown above. 2 Now that which is
known only in general is not known perfectly : since the
chief things belonging thereto are ignored, namely its
ultimate perfections whereby its own being is perfected;
wherefore by such knowledge as this a thing is known
1 8 Phys. i. 2 ; ix. 3. a Ch. xxviii.
CHAPTER L in
potentially rather than actually. Accordingly if God, by
Knowing His essence, knows all things in general, it fol-
lows that He has also proper knowledge of things.
Further. Whoever knows a nature knows the per se
accidents of that nature. Now the per se accidents of being
as such are one and many, as is proved in 4 Metaph. 1
Wherefore if God, by knowing His essence, knows the
nature of being in general, it follows that He knows multi-
tude. Now multitude is inconceivable without distinction.
Therefore He understands things as distinct from one
Moreover. Whoever knows perfectly a universal nature
knows the mode in which that nature can be had : thus he
who knows whiteness knows that it is susceptive of increase
and decrease. Now tlKe various degrees of being result
from various modes of being. Therefore if God by know-
ing Himself knows the universal nature of being — and this
not imperfectly, since all imperfection is far removed from
Him, as we have proved above 2 — it follows that He knows
all the degrees of being : and so He has proper knowledge
of things other than Himself.
Further. Whoever knows a thing perfectly, knows all
that is in that thing. Now God knows Himself perfectly.
Therefore He knows all that is in Him in relation to His
active power. But all things according to their proper
forms are in Him in relation to His active power : since He
is the principle of all being. Therefore He has proper
knowledge of all things.
Again. Whoever knows a nature, knows whether that
nature is communicable : for one would not know the nature
of an animal perfectly unless one knew that it is com-
municable to several. Now the divine nature is communic-
able according to likeness. Therefore God knows in how
many ways a thing can be like His essence. But the
diversity of forms arises from the different ways in which
things reflect the divine essence : wherefore the Philoso-
pher 3 calls a natural form a godlike thing. Therefore God
1 D. 3. ii. 5. a Ch. xxviii. 3 1 Phys. ix. 3.
ii2 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
has knowledge of things in reference to their proper
Moreover. Men and other beings endowed with know-
ledge know things as many and distinct from one another.
Accordingly if God knows not things as distinct from one
another, it follows that He is most foolish, as in the opinion
of those who asserted that God is ignorant of discord,
which all know, an opinion that the Philosopher considers
inadmissible 1 (i De Animav. 10; 3 Metaph.). 2
We are also taught this by the authority of canonical
Scripture : for it is stated (Gen. i. 31) : God saw all the
things that He had made and they were very good: and
(Heb. iv. 13) : Neither is there any creature invisible in His
sight: . . . all things are naked and open to His eyes.
CHAPTERS LI and LII
REASONS FOR INQUIRING HOW THERE IS A MULTITUDE OF
THINGS UNDERSTOOD IN THE DIVINE INTELLECT
Lest, however, from the fact that God understands many
things we be led to conclude that there is composition in
the divine intellect, we must examine in what way the
things He understands are many.
Now they cannot be understood to be many, as though
the many things God understands had a distinct being in
Him. For these understood things would either be the
same as the divine essence, and thus we should have multi-
tude in the essence of God, which has been disproved
above 3 in many ways, or else they would be added to the
divine essence, and thus there would be something acci-
dental in God, and this again we have proved above to be
Nor again can it be admitted that these intelligible forms
exist per se : as Plato, in order to avoid the above impos-
sibilities, seems to have maintained by holding the existence
1 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xiv., A. 11. a D. 2. iv. 15.
3 Chs. xviii., xx., xlii. 4 Ch. xxiii.
CHAPTERS LI and LII 113
of ideas. 1 Because the forms of natural things cannot
exist apart from matter, since neither are they understood
And even if the above supposition were admissible, it
would not suffice to explain how God understands many
things. For since the aforesaid forms are outside the
essence of God, if God were unable without them to under-
stand the multitude of things, as is requisite for the perfec-
tion of His intellect, it would follow that the perfection of
His understanding depends on something else : and conse-
quently the perfection also of His being, since His being is
His act of intelligence : the contrary of which has been
shown above. 2
Again. Since all that is beside His essence is caused by
Him, as we shall prove further on, 3 it must needs be that
if the aforesaid forms are outside God, they are caused by
Him. Now He is the cause of things by His intellect, as
we shall show further on.* Therefore in order that these
intelligible forms may exist, it is required that previously
in the order of nature God should understand them. And
consequently God does not understand multitude through
the fact that many intelligible things exist per se outside
Again. The intelligible in act is the intellect in act,
even as the sensible in act is the sense in act. 6 But so far
as the intelligible is distinct from the intellect, both are in
potentiality, as appears in the senses : for neither is the
sight actually seeing, nor the visible actually seen, except
when the sight is informed by the species of the visible
object, so that one thing results from sight and visible.
Accordingly if the intelligible objects of God are outside
His intellect, it will follow that His intellect is in poten-
tiality, and likewise His intelligible objects : and thus He
will need something to reduce Him to actuality. But this
is impossible, since this thing would be previous to Him.
Further. The object understood must be in the intellect.
1 Phcedo xlviii., xlix. : Timceus (D., p. 204).
2 Ch. xiii. 3 Bk. II., xv. 4 Bk. II., xxiii., xxiv.
5 3 De Anima ii. 4 ; iv. 12 ; v. 2.
ii 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Therefore in order to explain how God understands the
multitude of things it is not enough to suppose that the
forms of things exist per se outside the divine intellect ; but
it is necessary that they be in the divine intellect itself.
1 From these very same reasons it appears that it cannot
be admitted that the multitude of the aforesaid intelligibles
is in some other beside the divine intellect, either that of
the soul, or that of an angel or intelligence. For in that
case the divine intellect, in respect of one of its operations,
would depend on some secondary intellect : which also is
Even as things that subsist in themselves are from God,
so are those that exist in a subject. Wherefore the exist-
ence of the aforesaid intelligibles in some secondary intel-
lect presupposes God's act of intelligence whereby He is
their cause. It would also follow that God's intellect is in
potentiality : since His intelligibles would not be united
to Him. Even as each thing has its proper being so has
it its proper operation. Wherefore it is impossible that
because one intellect is disposed to operate, therefore
another exercises intellectual operation, but only that same
intellect Where we find the disposition : even as a thing
is by its own essence and not by another's. Hence it does
not become possible for the first intellect to understand
multitude, through the fact that many intelligibles are in
some second intellect.
SOLUTION OF THE FOREGOING DOUBT
The foregoing doubt 1 may be easily solved if we examine
carefully how things understood are in the understanding.
And in order that, as far as possible, we may proceed
from our intellect to the knowledge of the divine intellect,
it must be observed that the external objects which we
understand do not exist in our intellect according to their
1 Ch. lii.
CHAPTER LIII 115
own nature, but it is necessary that our intellect contain
their species whereby it becomes intellect in act. And
being in act by this species as by its proper form, it under-
stands the object itself. And yet the act of understanding
is not an act passing into the intellect, as heating passes
into the object heated, but it remains in the one who under-
stands : although it bears a relation to the object under-
stood, for the very reason that the aforesaid species, which
is the formal principle of intellectual operation, is the
image of that object.
It must furthermore be observed that the intellect in-
formed by the species of the object, by understanding pro-
duces in itself a kind of intention of the object understood,
which intention reflects the nature of that object and is
expressed in the definition thereof. This indeed is neces-
sary : since the intellect understands indifferently a thing
absent or present, and in this point agrees with the
imagination : yet the intellect has this besides, that it
understands a thing as separate from material conditions,
without which it does not exist in reality ; and this is im-
possible unless the intellect forms for itself the aforesaid
Now this understood intention, since it is the term, so
to speak, of the intellectual operation, is distinct from the
intelligible species which makes the intellect in act, and
which we must look upon as the principle of the intellectual
operation ; albeit each is an image of the object under-
stood : since it is because the intelligible species, which is
the form of the intellect and the principle of understanding,
is the image of. the external object, that the intellect in
consequence forms an intention like that object : for such
as a thing is, such is the effect of its operation. And since
the understood intention is like a particular thing, it follows
that the intellect by forming this intention understands
that thing. On the other hand the divine intellect under-
stands by no species other than His essence, as we have
proved. 1 And yet His essence is the likeness of all things. 2
1 Ch. xlvi. 2 Ch. xxix.
n6 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Wherefore it follows from this that the concept of the divine
intellect, according as He understands Himself, which
concept is His Word, is the likeness not only of God Him-
self understood, but also of all things of which the divine
essence is the likeness. Accordingly many things can be
understood by God, by one intelligible species which is the
divine essence, and by one understood intention which is
the divine Word.
HOW THE DIVINE ESSENCE, THOUGH ONE AND SIMPLE, IS A
PROPER LIKENESS OF ALL THINGS INTELLIGIBLE
And yet it may seem to someone difficult or impossible that
the one and same simple thing, such as God's essence, be
the proper type or likeness of diverse things. For, since
the distinction of diverse things arises from their proper
forms, that which by reason of its proper form is like one
of them must needs be unlike another. Whereas, so far
as diverse things have something in common, nothing
hinders them from having one likeness, for instance a man
and an ass, in as much as they are animals. Hence it
would follow that God has not proper but common know-
ledge of things : because the operation of knowledge follows
according to the mode by which the thing known is in the
knower, even as heating follows the mode of heat : for the
likeness of the thing known in the knower is as the form
by which a thing acts. Therefore if God has proper
knowledge of many things it follows that He is Himself
the proper type of each. How this may be, we must
As the Philosopher says (8 Metaph.) 1 forms of things,
and their definitions which signify them, are like numbers.
For in numbers, if one unit be added or subtracted the
species of the number is changed; as appears in the num-
bers 3 and 4. Now it is the same with definitions : for the
addition or subtraction of one difference changes the
1 D. 7. iii. 8.
CHAPTER LIV 117
species : thus a sensible substance minus rational and plus
rational differs specifically.
Now in things which include many, it is not the same
with the intellect as with nature. For the nature of a thing
does not allow of the separation of those things that are
required essentially for that thing : thus the nature of an
animal will not remain if the soul be taken away from the
body. On the other hand the intellect is sometimes able
to take separately those things which are essentially united,
when one is not included in the notion of the other.
Wherefore in the number 3 it can consider the number 2
alone, and in a rational animal it can consider that which is
only sensible. Hence the intellect is able to consider that
which includes several things as the proper notion of
several, by apprehending one of them without the others.
For it can consider 10 as the proper notion of 9, by sub-
tracting one unit, and in like manner as the proper notion
of each lesser number included therein. Again, in man,
it can consider the proper type of an irrational animal as
such, and of each of its species, unless they imply the
addition of a positive difference. For this reason a certain
philosopher, Clement by name, said that the things of
higher rank are the types of those of lesser rank. 1
Now the divine essence contains the excellences of all
beings, not indeed by way of composition, but by way of
perfection, as we have shown above. 2 And every form,
whether proper or common, so far as it is something posi-
tive, is a perfection : nor does it include imperfection except
in so far as it falls short of true being. Wherefore God's
intellect can include within His essence that which is proper
to each thing, by understanding wherein each thing
imitates His essence, and wherein it falls short of His
essence : for instance, by understanding His essence as
imitable in respect of life and not of knowledge, it under-
stands the proper form of a plant : or again as imitable in
respect of knowledge but not of intellect, it understands
the proper form of an animal, and so on. Hence it is clear
1 Cf. Dion., Div. Norn. v. 2 Ch. xxxi.
n8 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
that the divine essence, in as much as it is absolutely
perfect, may be taken as the proper type of such thing.
Wherefore God can have proper knowledge of all things
Since, however, the proper notion of one thing is dis-
tinct from the proper notion of another, and since distinc-
tion is the principle of plurality; we must consider a certain
distinction and plurality of understood notions in the divine
intellect, in so far as that which is in the divine intellect is
the proper notion of diverse things. Wherefore, since this
is according as God understands the proper relation of
similarity which each creature bears to Him, it follows that
the types of things in the divine intellect are not many nor
different, except in so far as God knows that things can be
like Him in many and divers ways. In this sense Augus-
tine 1 says that God makes man after one type and a horse
after another, and that the types of things are manifold in
the divine mind. Wherein also the opinion of Plato holds
good, in that he held the existence of ideas according to
which all that exists in material things would be formed. 2
THAT GOD UNDERSTANDS ALL THINGS AT THE SAME INSTANT
From the foregoing it is also made evident that God under-
stands all things at the same instant.
For our intellect is unable actually to understand several
things simultaneously, because since the intellect in act is
the thing understood in act, 3 if it were to understand
actually several things at the same time, it would follow
that the intellect is simultaneously several things according
to one genus ; which is impossible. And I say according
to one genus, because nothing hinders the same subject
receiving different forms of different genera, even as the
one body receives shape and colour. Now the intelligible
species by which the intellect is informed with the result
1 QQ. lxxxiii., qu. 46. 2 Cf. ch. li. : Nor again . . . p. 112.
3 3 De Anima iv. 12 ; v. 2.
CHAPTER LV 119
that the things themselves are actually understood are all
of one genus : for they have one essential nature although
the things whereof they are the species do not agree in one
essential nature : wherefore neither are they contrary to
one another as are the things outside the mind. Hence it
is that, when we consider a certain number of things in any
way united together, we understand them at the same time :
for we understand a continuous whole simultaneously, and
not part by part : and in like manner we understand a
proposition, and not the subject first and the predicate
afterwards ; because we know all the parts by one species
of the whole. From this we may gather that whatever
number of things are known by one species, they can be
understood simultaneously. Now all that God knows, He
knows by one species which is His essence. 1 Therefore
He can understand all things simultaneously.
Again. The cognitive power does not know a thing
except the intention be there, wherefore at times we do not
actually imagine the phantasms preserved in the organ,
because the intention is not directed thereto : for the
appetite moves the other powers to act, in voluntary agents.
Hence we do not consider simultaneously a number of
things if the intention be not directed to them simul-
taneously : and those things that must needs come under
one intention must be understood simultaneously : since
he who considers the comparison between two things,
directs his intention simultaneously to both, and considers
both at the same time. Now all those things that are in the
divine knowledge must come under one intention. For
God intends to see His essence perfectly : and this is to see
it according to its whole power under which all things are
comprised. Therefore God, in seeing His essence, sees all
Moreover. The intellect of one who considers many
things in succession cannot possibly have only one opera-
tion : for since operations differ according to their objects,
the operation whereby the intellect considers the first thing
1 Ch. xlvi.
120 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
must needs be distinct from that whereby it considers the
second. But the divine intellect has only one operation,
which is its essence, as proved above. 1 Therefore it con-
siders all that it knows, not simultaneously but successively.
Further. Succession is inconceivable apart from time,
and time apart from movement : since time is the measure
of movement according to before or after. 2 Now no
movement is possible in God, as may be gathered from
what has been said above. 3 Therefore in God's thought
there is no succession : and consequently whatever He
knows He considers simultaneously.
Again. God's act of understanding is His very being,
as shown above. 4 Now there is no before and after in the
divine being, but it is all simultaneously, as proved above. 5
Therefore neither is there before and after in God's thought,
but He understands all things simultaneously.
Moreover. Every intellect that understands one thing
after another is at one time understanding potentially, and
at another time actually : for while it understands the first
thing actually, it understands the second potentially. But
the divine intellect is never in potentiality, but is always
understanding actually. 6 Therefore it understands things,
not successively, but altogether simultaneously.
Holy Writ bears witness to this truth : for it is said
(James i. 17) that with God there is no change, nor shadow
THAT GOD'S KNOWLEDGE IS NOT A HABIT
From the foregoing it follows that God's knowledge is not
For wheresoever knowledge is habitual, all things are
not known simultaneously, but some actually and others
habitually. Now God knows all things actually in the
same instant, as we have proved. 7 Therefore in Him
knowledge is not a habit.
1 Ch. xlv. 2 4 Phys. xi. 5. 3 Ch. xiii. 4 Ch. xlv.
6 Ch. xv. 6 Ch. xvi. 7 Ch. lv.
CHAPTER LVI 121
Further. He who has a habit, while not using it, is
somewhat in potentiality, but not in the same way as before
learning. 1 Now it has been shown that the divine intellect
is nowise in potentiality. 2 Therefore nowise is there
habitual knowledge in Him.
Again. The essence of any intellect that knows some-
thing habitually is distinct from its intellectual operation
which is actual consideration : because the intellect that
knows something by a habit lacks its operation : whereas
it cannot lack its essence. Now in God His essence is His
operation, as we have proved. 3 Therefore there is no
habitual knowledge in His intellect.
Again. The intellect that knows something only
habitually is not in its ultimate perfection : wherefore
happiness which is the best thing of all is held to be not a
habit but an act.* Therefore if God has habitual know-
ledge through His substance, He will not be universally
perfect considered in regard to His substance. And the
contrary of this was proved above. 6
Moreover. We have shown 6 that He is intelligent by
His essence, and not by any intelligible species added to
His essence. Now every intellect with a habit understands
by species : for habit is either ability of the intellect to
receive intelligible species whereby it becomes actually
understanding, or else it is the orderly collection of the
species themselves residing in the intellect without com-
plete actuality, and after a manner that lies between poten-
tiality and act. Therefore in Him there is no habitual
Further. Habit is a quality. Now neither quality nor
any accident can be ascribed to God, as was proved above. 7
Therefore habitual knowledge is not becoming to God.
Since, however, the disposition by which one is only
habitually considering or willing or acting, is like the dis-
position of one who sleeps, 8 hence David in order to
1 2 De Anima v. 4.
2 Ch. xlv. 3 Ibid.
4 1 Ethic, viii. 8 ; xiii. i.
5 Ch. xxviii. 6 Ch. xlvi.
7 Ch. xxiii.
8 Cf. 11 Metaph. ix. 1.
122 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
remove habitual knowledge from God, says : x Behold He
shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. For
the same reason it is said (Ecclus. xxiii. 28) : The eyes of
the Lord are far brighter than the sun, for the sun shines
THAT GOD'S KNOWLEDGE IS NOT DISCURSIVE
Furthermore we gather from the foregoing that God's
thoughts are not argumentative or discursive.
Our thoughts are argumentative when we pass from
one thought to another, as when we reason from principles
to conclusions. For a person does not argue or discourse
from the fact that he sees how a conclusion follows from
its premisses, and considers both together : since this
happens not by arguing but by judging of an argument :
even so neither does material knowledge consist in judging
of material things. Now, it was shown 2 that God does not
consider one thing after another successively as it were, but
all things simultaneously. Therefore His knowledge is
not argumentative or discursive : although He is cog-
nizant of all discourse and argument.
Again. Whosoever argues views the premisses by one
consideration and the conclusion by another : for there
would be no need after considering the premisses to proceed
to the conclusion, if by the very fact of considering the
premisses one were to consider the conclusion also. Now
God knows all things by one operation which is His
essence, as we have proved above. 3 Therefore His know-
ledge is not argumentative.
Further. All argumentative knowledge has something
of potentiality and something of actuality : since conclu-
sions are potentially in their premisses. But potentiality
has no place in the divine intellect, as we have shown
above. 4 Therefore His intellect is not discursive.
1 Ps. cxx. 4. a Ch. lv. 3 Ch. xlvi. * Ch. xvi.
CHAPTER LVII 123
Moreover. In all discursive knowledge something must
needs be caused; since the premisses are, so to speak, the
cause of the conclusion : wherefore a demonstration is
described as a syllogism that produces knowledge. 1 But
nothing can be caused in the divine knowledge, since it is
God Himself, as shown above. 2 Therefore God's know-
ledge cannot be discursive.
Again. Those things which we know naturally, are
known to us without our discoursing about them, as in the
case of first principles. Now knowledge in God cannot be
otherwise than natural, nor in fact otherwise than essential ;
since His knowledge is His essence, as we proved above. 3
Therefore God's knowledge is not argumentative.
Further. Whatever is moved must be reduced to a first
mover that is mover only and not moved. 4 Wherefore that
whence comes the first source of movement, must be abso-
lutely a mover unmoved. Now this is the divine intellect,
as we have shown above. 5 Therefore the divine intellect
must be an absolutely unmoved mover. But argument is
a movement of the intellect in passing from one thing
to another. Therefore the divine intellect is not argu-
Again. That which is highest in us is inferior to that
which is in God : for the inferior does not touch the
superior except in its summit. Now the summit in our
knowledge is not reason, but understanding, which is the
source of reason. Therefore God's knowledge is not argu-
mentative, but purely intellectual.
Moreover. All defect is far removed from God, because
He is simply perfect, as proved above. 6 But argumenta-
tive knowledge results from an imperfection of the intel-
lectual nature : since what is known through another thing
is less known than what is known in itself : nor does the
nature of the knower suffice to reach what is known through
something else, without this thing through which the other
is made known. Now in argumentative knowledge, one
1 1 Post. Anal. ii. 4. 2 Ch. xlv. 3 Ibid.
4 Ch. xiii. 5 Ch. xliv. a Ch. xxviil
i2 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
thing is made known through another : whereas what is
known intellectually is known in itself, and the nature of
the knower suffices for the knowledge thereof without any
means from without. Hence it is clear that reason is a
defective intellect : and consequently the divine knowledge
is not argumentative.
Again. Without any discourse of reason those things
are understood whose species are in the knower : for the
sight does not discourse in order to know a stone the image
of which is in the sight. Now the divine essence is the
likeness of all things, as we have proved above. 1 There-
fore it does not proceed to know a thing by a discourse of
It is also clear how to solve the arguments that would
seem to prove the presence of discourse in the divine know-
ledge. First, because He knows other things through His
essence. For it has been proved that this does not involve
discoursing : since His essence is related to other things not
as the premisses to a conclusion, but as species to things
known. Secondly, because some might think it unfitting
that God should be unable to argue. For He has the know-
ledge of arguing as judging, and not as discoursing by
Holy Writ bears witness to this truth which we have
proved by reason. For it is said (Heb. iv. 13) : Ml things
are naked and open to His eyes. Because the things that
we know by reasoning are not in themselves naked and
open to us, but are opened out and laid bare by reason.
THAT GOD DOES NOT UNDERSTAND BY COMPOSITION AND
It may also be shown from the same principles that the
divine intellect does not understand after the manner of a
composing and dividing intellect. For He knows all
1 Ch. liv.
things by knowing His essence. 1 Now He does not know
His essence by composition and division; since He knows
Himself as He is, and in Him there is no composition. 2
Therefore He does not understand by way of a composing
and dividing intellect.
Again. Things composed and divided by the intellect
are by nature such as to be considered by the intellect apart
from one another : for there would be no need of composi-
tion and division, if from the very fact that one understood
what a particular thing is, one knew what is or is not in
that thing. Therefore if God understands by way of a
composing and dividing intellect, it follows that He sees
all things, not at one glance, but each one separately : and
yet we have proved the contrary above. 3
Further. In God there cannot be before and after. Now
composition and division come after the consideration of
what a thing is, for this consideration is their foundation.
Therefore composition and division are impossible in the
Again. The proper object of the intellect is what a thing
is: wherefore about this the intellect is not deceived except
accidentally ; whereas it is deceived about composition and
division ; even as the senses are always true about their
proper objects, but may be deceived about others. Now,
in the divine intellect there is nothing accidental, and only
what is essential. 4 Wherefore in the divine intellect there
is no composition and division, but only simple apprehen-
sion of a thing.
Moreover. The composition of a proposition formed by
a composing and dividing intellect exists in the intellect
itself, not in the thing that is outside the mind. Where-
fore, if the divine intellect were to judge after the manner
of a composing and dividing intellect, His intellect would
be composite. But this is impossible as shown above. 5
Again. A composing and dividing intellect judges of
various things by various compositions : because the com-
1 Ch. xlvi.
4 Ch. xxiii.
2 Ch. xviii.
5 Ch. xviii.
126 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
position of the intellect does not go beyond the limits of
composition : wherefore the intellect does not judge that a
triangle is a figure by the same composition whereby it
judges that man is an animal. Hence, if God considers
things by composing and dividing, it follows that His act
of understanding is not one only but manifold. And thus
again His essence will not be one only, since His intel-
lectual operation is His essence, as we proved above. 1
Yet we must not therefore say that He is ignorant of
enunciations. For His essence, since it is one and simple,
is the type of all things multiple and composite : so that
thereby God knows every multitude and composition both
of nature and of reason.
Holy Writ is in agreement with this. For it is said
(Isa. lv. 8) : For My thoughts are not your thoughts. And
yet it is said in the psalm : 2 The Lord knoweth the thoughts
of men, which manifestly proceed from composition and
division of the intellect.
Moreover. Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii.) : Where-
fore divine Wisdom, by knowing itself knows all things,
the material immaterially, divisible things indivisibly,
THAT GOD IS NOT IGNORANT OF THE TRUTH OF ENUNCIATIONS
It follows from the foregoing that, although the knowledge
of the divine intellect is not like that of a composing and
dividing intellect, it is not ignorant of the truth which,
according to the Philosopher, 3 is solely about composition
and division of the intellect.
For since the truth of the intellect is the equation of
thought and thing, 4 in so far as the intellect asserts that to
be which is, and that not to be which is not, 6 truth in the
1 Ch. xlv. 2 Ps. xciii. II.
3 5 Metaph. iv. ; 3 De Anima vi.
4 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xvi., A. 2, Obj. 2. fi 3 Metaph. vii. 1.
CHAPTER LIX 127
intellect belongs to that which the intellect asserts, not to
the operation whereby it asserts. Because the truth of the
intellect does not require that the act itself of understanding
be equated to the thing, since sometimes the thing is mate-
rial, whereas the act of understanding is immaterial. But
that which the intellect in understanding asserts and knows,
needs to be equated to the thing, namely to be in reality as
the intellect asserts it to be. Now God, by His simple act
of intelligence wherein is neither composition nor division,
knows not only the essence of things, but also that which
is enunciated about them, as proved above. 1 Wherefore that
which the divine intellect asserts in understanding is com-
position or division. Therefore truth is not excluded from
the divine intellect by reason of the latter's simplicity.
Moreover. When something non-complex is said or
understood, the non-complex in itself is neither equal nor
unequal to the reality, since equality and inequality imply
a comparison, and the non-complex in itself contains no
comparison or application to a reality. Wherefore in itself
it cannot be said to be either true or false : but only the
complex which contains a comparison between the non-
complex and the reality, expressed by composition or
division. But the non-complex intellect by understanding
what a thing is, apprehends the quiddity of a thing in a
kind of comparison with the thing, since it apprehends it
as the quiddity of this particular thing. Hence, although
the non-complex itself, or even a definition, is not in itself
true or false, nevertheless the intellect that apprehends what
a thing is is said to be always true in itself, as stated in
3 De Anima, 2 although it may be accidentally false, in so
far as the definition includes complexion either of the parts
of the definition with one another, or of the whole definition
with the thing defined. 3 Wherefore a definition, according
as it is taken to be the definition of this or that thing, as
understood by the intellect, will be said to be false either
simply, if the parts of the definition do not hold together,
1 Ch. lviii. 2 v j 7-
3 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xvii., A. 3 ; Q. lxxxv., A. 6.
128 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
as if we were to say an insensible animal, or false in its
application to this particular thing, as if one were to apply
the definition of a circle to a triangle. Hence, though it be
granted, by an impossibility, that the divine intellect knows
only non-complex things, it would still be true in knowing
its quiddity as its own.
Again. The divine simplicity does not exclude perfec-
tion : because in its simple essence it has all the perfections
to be found in other things by the aggregation of perfec-
tions or forms; as was proved above. 1 Now, our intellect,
by apprehending the incomplex, does not as yet reach to its
ultimate perfection, since it is still in potentiality as regards
composition and division : even as in natural things simple
things are in potentiality in respect of mixed things, and
parts in respect of the whole. Accordingly God, in respect
of His simple act of intelligence, has that perfection of
knowledge which our intellect has by both kinds of know-
ledge, whether of the complex or of the non-complex.
Now truth is acquired by our intellect in its perfect know-
ledge thereof, when it arrives at composition. Therefore
there is truth in God's mere act of simple intelligence.
Again. Since God is the good of every good, through
having in Himself all manner of goodness, as we have
shown above, 2 the goodness of the intellect cannot be lack-
ing to Him. Now truth is the good of the intellect, as the
Philosopher declares (6 Ethic.). 5 Therefore truth is in
And this is what is stated in the psalm : 4 But God is true.
THAT GOD IS TRUTH
It follows from what has been said that God Himself is
For truth is a perfection of the intelligence or intellectual
1 Chs. xxviii., xxxi. 2 Ch. xl.
3 ii. 3. 4 Rom. iii. 4 ; cf. Ps. 1. 6.
CHAPTER LXI 129
operation, as stated above. 1 Now God's act of intelligence
is His substance : 2 and since this very act of intelligence is
God's being, as we have shown, 3 it is not made perfect by
some additional perfection, but is perfect in itself, just as
we have said about the divine being. 4 It remains therefore
that the divine substance is truth itself.
Again. Truth is a good of the intellect, according to
the Philosopher. 5 Now God is His own goodness, as we
have shown. 6 Therefore He is also His own truth.
Further. Nothing can be said participatively of God :
since He is His own being which participates nothing.
Now truth is in God, as was shown above. 7 If, then, it be
not said of Him participatively, it follows that it is said
essentially. Therefore God is His own truth.
Moreover. Although properly speaking the true is not
in things but in the mind, according to the Philosopher, 8
nevertheless sometimes a thing is said to be true, in so far
as it attains to the act of its own nature. Hence, Avicenna
says in his Metaphysics 9 that the truth of a thing is a
property of the nature immutably attached to it, in so far
as that thing is naturally inclined to cause a true estimate
of itself, and reflects the type of itself that is in the divine
mind. Now God is His own essence. Therefore, whether
we speak of the truth of the mind, or of the truth of the
thing, God is His own truth.
This is confirmed by the authority of our Lord, Who says
of Himself (Jo. xiv. 6) : I am the way, the truth, and the
THAT GOD IS THE MOST PURE TRUTH
The foregoing being established it is evident that in God
there is pure truth, in which there can be no alloy of false-
hood or deception.
1 Ch. lix. 2 ch# x j v# 3 Ibid ,
4 Ch. xxviii. 6 6 Ethic, ii. 3. 6 Ch. xxxviii. '
7 1 Ch. lix. 8 5 Meiaph. iv. 1. 9 Tract, viii. 6.
130 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
For falsehood is incompatible with truth, even as black
with white. Now God is not merely true, but is truth
itself. 1 Therefore there can be no falsehood in Him.
Moreover. The intellect is not deceived in knowing
what a thing is, as neither is the sense about its proper
sensible. 2 Now all knowledge of the divine intellect is as
the knowledge of one Who knows what a thing is, as was
proved above. 3 Therefore it is impossible that there be
error, deception or falsehood in the divine knowledge.
Further. The intellect does not err about first prin-
ciples, whereas it does sometimes about conclusions, to
which it proceeds by arguing from first principles. Now
the divine intellect is not argumentative or discursive, as
we proved above.* Therefore there can be no falsehood or
Again. The higher a cognitive power is, the more
universal and the more comprehensive is its proper object :
wherefore that which the sight knows accidentally, the
common sense or the imagination apprehends as included
in its proper object. Now the power of the divine intellect
is absolutely supreme in knowledge. Therefore all things
knowable are compared thereto as knowable properly and
per se and not accidentally. But Che cognitive power errs
not about such things. Therefore it is impossible for the
divine intellect to err about any knowable object.
Moreover. An intellectual virtue is a perfection of the
intellect in knowing things. Now the intellect cannot,
according to an intellectual virtue, speak false, but always
speaks true : because to speak true is the good act of the
intellect, and it belongs to virtue to perform a good act. 6
Now the divine intellect is more perfect by its nature than
the human intellect is by a habit of virtue, for it is in the
summit of perfection. 6 It remains, therefore, that false-
hood cannot be in the divine intellect.
Further. The knowledge of the human intellect is some-
what caused by things; the result being that man's know-
1 Ch. lx. 2 Cf. ch. lix. 3 Ch. lviii.
4 Ch. lvii. 5 2 Ethic, vi. 2. 6 Ch. xxviii.
CHAPTER LXII 131
ledge is measured by its objects : since the judgment of the
intellect is true through being in accordance with things,
and not vice versa. Now the divine intellect is the cause of
things by its Knowledge. 1 Wherefore His knowledge must
needs be the measure of things : even as art is the measure
of the products of art, each of which is so far perfect as it
accords with art. Hence the divine intellect is compared
to things as things to the human intellect. Now falsehood
resulting from inequality between man's mind and things
is not in things but in the mind. Wherefore if there were
not perfect equality between the divine mind and things,
falsehood would be in things but not in the divine mind.
And yet there is no falsehood in things, because as much
as a thing has of being, so much has it of truth. There-
fore there is no inequality between the divine intellect and
things : nor is any falsehood possible in the divine mind.
Again. As the true is the good of the intellect, so is
falsehood its evil: 2 for we naturally desire to know the true
and shun to be deceived by the false. Now evil cannot be
in God, as was proved above. 3 Therefore falsehood cannot
be in Him.
Hence it is said (Rom. iii. 4): But God is true: and
(Num. xxxiii. 19) : God is not as a man, that He should
lie: and (1 Jo. i. 5) : God is light, and in Him there is no
THAT THE DIVINE TRUTH IS THE FIRST AND SUPREME TRUTH
From what has been proved it clearly follows that the
divine truth is the first and supreme truth.
For the disposition of things in truth is as their disposi-
tion in being, according to the Philosopher (2 Metaph.), 4
and this because truth and being are mutually consequent
upon one another ; since the true is when that is said to be
which is, and that not to be, whicK is not. 5 Now God's
1 Ch. 1. : In evidence ... p. 109 ; Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xiii., A. 8.
2 6 Ethic, ii. 3. 3 Ch. xxxix. 4 D. la. i. 5. 5 3 Metaph. vii. 1.
i 3 2 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
being is first and most perfect. Therefore His truth is also
first and supreme.
Again. That which belongs to a thing essentially
belongs thereto most perfectly. Now truth is ascribed to
God essentially, as we have proved. 1 Therefore His truth
is the supreme and first truth.
Further. Truth is in our intellect through the latter
being equated to the thing understood. Now the cause of
equality is unity, as stated in 5 Metaph. 2 Since then in
the divine intellect, intellect and thing understood are abso-
lutely the same, His truth must be the first and supreme
Moreover. That which is the measure in any genus
must be the most perfect in that genus, wherefore all colours
are measured by white. Now the divine truth is the
measure of all truth. For the truth of our intellect is
measured by the thing that is outside the mind, since our
intellect is said to be true from the very fact that it accords
with the thing. And the truth of a thing is measured
according to the divine intellect which is the cause of things,
as we shall prove further on : 3 even as the truth of art-
products is measured by the art of the craftsman : for then
is a casket true when it accords with art. Also, since God
is the first intellect and the first intelligible, it follows that
the truth of every intellect must be measured by His truth :
if each thing is measured by the first in its genus, as the
Philosopher teaches in 10 Metaph. 4 Hence the divine truth
is the first, supreme and most perfect truth.
THE ARGUMENTS OF THOSE WHO WOULD DENY TO GOD THE
KNOWLEDGE OF SINGULARS
Now there are some who endeavour to withhold knowledge
of singulars from the perfection of God's knowledge : and
in support of their contention they proceed by seven ways.
1 Ch. lx. 2 D. 4. xv. 4. 3 Bk. II., xxiv. * D. 9. 1, 7, 8.
CHAPTER LXIII 133
The first is from the very nature of singularity. 1 For since
the principle of singularity is signate matter, it seems
impossible for singulars to be known by an immaterial
power, if all knowledge result from some kind of assimila-
tion. Wherefore in us those powers alone which use mate-
rial organs apprehend singulars, for instance the imagina-
tion, the senses and so on : while our intellect, since it is
immaterial, knows not singulars. Much less, therefore, is
the divine intellect cognizant of singulars, since it is furthest
removed from matter. Hence by no means does it seem
possible that God should know singulars.
The second argument 2 is that singulars are not always.
Either therefore they are always known by God, or they are
known at one time and unknown at another. The first is
impossible, since about what is not there can be no know-
ledge, which is always about true things, and things which
are not cannot be true. The second is also impossible,
because the knowledge of the divine intellect is altogether
unchangeable, as we have proved. 3
The third argument 4 proceeds from the fact that singulars
do not all happen of necessity, but some contingently.
Wherefore there can be no certain knowledge about them
except when they are. For certain knowledge is that
which cannot be deceived, and every knowledge of con-
tingencies, since these are future, can be deceived : because
the event may prove the opposite of that to which the mind
holds, since if the opposite could not happen, they would
be necessary. Wherefore we can have no knowledge of
future contingencies, but only a kind of conjectural esti-
mate. Now we must suppose that all God's knowledge is
most certain and infallible, as we have proved above. 5
Moreover it is impossible that God begin anew to know
something, on account of His unchangeableness, as stated. 6
Hence it would seem to follow that He knows not con-
The fourth 7 is based on the fact that the will is the cause
1 Cf. ch. Ixv. 2 Cf. ch. lxvi. 3 Ch. xlv. * Cf ch. ixvii.
6 Ch. lxi. e Ch. xlv. » Cf. ch. lxviii.
i 3 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
of certain singulars. Now an effect, until it actually is,
cannot be known save in its cause, for only thus can it be
before it begins to be in itself. But the movements of the
will cannot be known for certain by anyone except the
wilier in whose power they are. Wherefore it seems impos-
sible for God to have eternal knowledge of such singulars
as have their cause in the will.
The fifth 1 proceeds from the infinity of singulars. For
the infinite as such is unknown : 2 because whatever is
known is, in a way, measured by the comprehension of the
knower, since measurement is nothing else than a kind of
certification of the thing measured. Wherefore every act
discards the infinite. Now singulars are infinite, at least
in potentiality. Therefore it seems impossible for God to
The sixth 3 proceeds from the pettiness of singulars. For
as the excellence of knowledge is gauged by the excellence
of its object, so apparently the pettiness of the object con-
duces to pettiness of knowledge. Now the divine intellect
is supremely excellent. Therefore it is incompatible with
its excellence that God should know the most trivial of
The seventh* argues from the presence of evil in certain
singulars. For since the thing known is, in a manner, in
the knower; and since evil cannot be in God, as proved
above, 6 it would seem to follow that evil and privation are
entirely unknown to God, and known only by an intellect
that is in potentiality, since privation can only be in that
which is potential. Hence it follows that God has no
knowledge of singulars wherein evil and privation are to be
1 Cf. ch. lxix. 2 i Phvs. iv. 4. 8 Cf. ch. lxx.
4 Cf. ch. lxxi. 6 Ch. xxxix.
CHAPTERS LXIV and LXV 135
ORDER OF THE THINGS TO BE SAID ABOUT THE DIVINE
In order to refute this error, and moreover to show the
perfection of the divine knowledge, we must carefully seek
the truth about each of the aforesaid arguments, so as to
disprove whatever is contrary to the truth. In the first
place, then, we shall show that the divine intellect knows
singulars; secondly, that it knows things that actually are
not ; thirdly, that it knows future contingencies with an
unerring knowledge ; fourthly, that it knows the movements
of the will ; fifthly that it knows infinite things ; sixthly,
that it knows all the most trivial and petty things ;
seventhly, that it knows all evils and privations or defects.
THAT GOD KNOWS SINGULARS
Accordingly, we shall prove first that God cannot be lack-
ing in the knowledge of singulars.
For it has been shown 1 that God knows other things in
as much as He is their cause. Now God's effects are singu-
lar things : because God causes things in the same way as
He makes them to be actual ; and universals are not sub-
sistent, but have their being only in singulars, as is proved
in 7 Metaph. 2 Therefore God knows things other than
Himself not only in the universal but also in the singular.
Again. As soon as one knows the constituent prin-
ciples of a thing's essence, one must needs know that thing :
thus knowledge of the rational soul and of such a body
implies knowledge of man. Now the essence of a singular
is made up of signate matter and an individual form : thus
the essence of Socrates is made up of this particular body
and this particular soul, even as the essence of man in
1 Ch. xlix. 8 D. 6. xiii., xiv.
136 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
general is made up of soul and body, as stated in 7 Metaph. 1
Wherefore, since the latter are included in the definition of
man in general, so would the former be included in the
definition of Socrates, if he could be defined. Hence who-
ever has knowledge of matter, and of those things whereby
matter is designated, and of the form individualized by
matter, cannot be lacking in knowledge of the singular.
Now God's knowledge reaches to matter, individualizing
accidents, and forms. For, since His act of understanding
is His essence, 2 it follows that He understands all that
is in any way whatever in His essence : wherein are
virtually, as in their first origin, all that have being in
any way whatever, forasmuch as He is the first and
universal principle of being ; 3 and among these we must
include matter and accident, since matter is being in poten-
tiality, and accident, being in another. Therefore God
lacks not knowledge of singulars.
Moreover. The nature of a genus cannot be known
perfectly unless its first differences and proper passions be
known : thus the nature of number would not be perfectly
known if odd and even were unknown. Now universal
and singular are differences or proper passions of being.
Therefore if God, in knowing His essence, knows perfectly
the common nature of being, it follows that He knows
perfectly the universal and the singular. But, just as He
would not know the universal perfectly, if He knew the
intention of universality without knowing the thing in the
universal, such as man or animal, so too He would not
know the singular perfectly if He knew the nature of singu-
larity without knowing this or that singular thing. There-
fore God must needs know singulars.
Again. Just as God is His very being, so is He His
own act of knowledge, as we have proved. 4 Now from
the fact that He is His own being it follows that in Him
are all the perfections of being as in the first source of
being, as we have shown above.' Therefore it follows that
1 D. 6. x. 2 Ch. xlv. 3 Ch. xiii.
* Ch. xlv. 8 Ch. xxviii.
CHAPTER LXV 137
every perfection of knowledge is found in His knowledge,
as in the first fount of knowledge. But this would not be
if He were lacking in the knowledge of singulars : since
the perfection of some knowers consists in this. Therefore
it is impossible for Him not to have knowledge of singulars.
Further. In every order of powers it is universally found
that the higher power extends to more things and yet is
but one, whereas the lower power extends to fewer things,
and yet is multiple in relation to them. This appears in the
imaginative power and sense ; for the one power of imagina-
tion extends to all the things of which the five senses take
cognizance, and to more besides. Now the cognitive power
in God is higher than in man. Therefore whatever man
knows by various powers, his intellect namely, imagina-
tion, and sense, God considers it by His one simple
intellect. Therefore He knows singulars, which we appre-
hend by sense and imagination.
Moreover. God's intellect does not derive its know-
ledge from things as ours does, rather is He the cause of
things by His knowledge, as we shall prove further on r 1
wherefore His knowledge of other things is after the
ma nner of practical knowledge . Now practical knowledge
is not perfect unless it extend to singulars : because the
end of practical knowledge is operation, which is about
singulars. Therefore the divine knowledge of other things
extends to singulars.
Again. The first movable is moved by a motor that
moves by intellect and appetite, as was shown above. 2
Now a motor by intellect cannot cause movement unless it
knows the movable as naturally inclined to local move-
ment, and that is as existing here and now, and conse-
quently as a singular. Wherefore the intellect that is the
motor of the first movable knows the first movable as a
singular. But this motor is either supposed to be God,
and thus our point is proved, or else it is something be-
neath God. And if the intellect of this motor is able by its
own power to know a singular which our intellect is unable
1 Bk. II., xxiv. 2 Ch. xliv.
138 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
to know, much more will the divine intellect be able to
Again. The agent is more excellent than the patient and
the thing done, 1 as act is more excellent than potentiality.
Wherefore a form of lower degree cannot by its action
transmit its likeness to a higher degree, whereas a higher
form is able by its action to transmit its likeness to a lower
degree : thus corruptible forms are produced in this lower
world by the incorruptible agency of the stars, while a
corruptible agency cannot produce an incorruptible form.
Now all knowledge is the result of assimilation between
knower and known : yet there is this difference, that in
human knowledge assimilation is brought about by the
action of sensible things on the human cognitive powers,
whereas contrariwise in God's knowledge it arises from
the action of the form of the divine intellect on things
known. Accordingly the form of a sensible object, being
individualized by its materiality, is unable to transmit the
likeness of its singularity to that which is altogether imma-
terial, and it can only reach those powers which use material
organs ; but it is transmitted to the intellect by virtue of the
active intellect, in so far as it is wholly stripped of mate-
rial conditions : and so the likeness of the singularity of a
sensible form cannot reach as far as the human intellect.
On the other hand the likeness of the form in the divine
intellect, since it extends to the smallest details to which
His causality extends, reaches to the singularity of a
sensible and material form. Therefore the divine intellect
can know singulars, whereas the human intellect cannot.
Further. If God knows not singulars which even men
know, this would involve the absurdity which the Philoso-
pher urges against Empedocles, namely that God is most
The truth which we have established is confirmed by the
authority of Holy Writ. For it is written (Heb. iv. 13) :
Neither is there any creature invisible in His sight. The
contrary error is rejected (Ecclus. xvi. 16) : Say not: I shall
1 3 De A nima v. 2. a Cf. ch. 1.
CHAPTER LXVI 139
be hidden from God, and who shall remember me from
From what we have said it is also clear how the objection 1
raised in the contrary sense does not conclude aright. For
that which the divine intellect understands, although im-
material, is nevertheless the likeness of both the matter and
the form, as the first productive principle of both.
THAT GOD KNOWS THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT
In the next place we must show that God lacks not the
knowledge of things that are not.
For as stated above 3 the divine knowledge stands in the
same relation to the things known, as things knowable to
our knowledge. Now the comparison of the thing know-
able to our knowledge is that the knowable thing may exist
without our having knowledge of it, whereof the Philo-
sopher 3 in the Predicaments gives the example of squaring
the circle; but not conversely. Wherefore the relation of
the divine knowledge to things must be such that it can also
relate to non-existent things.
Again. The knowledge of God's intellect stands in the
same relation to other things as the knowledge of a crafts-
man to the works of his craft : since He is cause of things
by His knowledge. 4 Now the craftsman by the knowledge
of his art knows even those things which are not yet pro-
duced by his art : since the forms of his art pass from his
knowledge into external matter so as to produce the works
of his art : and consequently nothing prevents forms which
have not yet materialized outwardly from being in the
craftsman's knowledge. Therefore nothing prevents God
from having knowledge of things that are not.
Further. God knows things other than Himself by His
1 Ch. lxiii. : The first is . . . p. 133. 2 Ch. lxi. 3 Categ. v. 18.
4 Bk. II., xxiv. See above, ch. lxv. : Moreover. God's intellect . . .
i 4 o THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
essence, in as much as He is the likeness of the things that
proceed from Him, as shown above. 1 But, since God's
essence is infinitely perfect, as proved above, 2 while all
things else have limited being and perfection, it is impos-
sible for all other things together to equal the perfection
of the divine essence. Wherefore it is capable of repre-
senting many things besides those that exist. Hence if
God knows the whole power and perfection of His
essence, 3 His knowledge extends not only to those things
that are, but also to those that are not.
Moreover. Our intellect, in respect of the operation by
which it knows what a thing is, can have knowledge of
those things also that are not actually : since it is able to
comprehend the essence of a lion or horse, even if all such
animals were slain. Now the divine intellect knows, as
one who knows what a thing is, not only definitions but
also enunciations, as shown above. 4 Therefore it can have
knowledge of those things also that are not.
Again. An effect can be foreknown in its cause even
before it exist : even so an astronomer foreknows a future
eclipse by observing the order of the heavenly movements.
Now God's knowledge is of all things through their cause :
for by knowing Himself, Who is the cause of all, He
knows other things as His effects, as we proved above. 5
Nothing, therefore, prevents Him from knowing those
things also that are not yet.
Moreover. There is no succession in God's act of under-
standing, any more than there is in His existence. 6 Hence
it is all at once everlasting, which belongs to the essence of
eternity, 7 whereas the duration of time is drawn out by the
succession of before and after. Wherefore the proportion
of eternity to the whole duration of time is as the propor-
tion of the indivisible to the continuous, not indeed of the
indivisible that is the term of the continuous, and is not
present to each part of the continuous — for such is likened
1 Chs. xlix., liv. 2 Ch. xliii. 3 Ch. xlvii.
4 Chs. lviii., lix. s Ch. xlix. 6 Ch. xlv.
7 Ch. xv.
CHAPTER LXVI 141
to an instant of time — but of the indivisible that is outside
the continuous, and yet synchronizes with each part of the
continuous, or with each point of a signate continuous :
because, since time does not exceed movement, eternity,
being utterly outside movement, is altogether outside time.
Again, since the being of the eternal never fails, eternity
synchronizes with every time or instant of time. Some-
what of an example of this may be seen in the circle : for a
given point in the circumference, although indivisible, does
not coincide in its position with any other point, since the
order of position results in the continuity of the circum-
ference ; while the centre which is outside the circumference
is directly opposite any given point in the circumference.
Accordingly whatever exists in any part of time, is co-
existent with the eternal as though present thereto, although
in relation to another part of time it is present or future.
Now a thing cannot be present to, and coexistent with, the
eternal, except with the whole eternal, since this has no
successive duration. Therefore whatever happens through-
out the whole course of time is seen as present by the divine
intellect in its eternity. And yet that which is done in
some part of time was not always in existence. It remains
therefore that God has knowledge of those things which
are not as yet in relation to the course of time.
By these arguments it is made clear that God has know-
ledge of not-beings. Nevertheless not-beings have not all
the same relation to His knowledge. For those things
which neither are, nor shall be, nor have been, are known
by God as possible to His power. Wherefore He knows
them, not as existing in themselves in any way, but as
merely existing in the divine power. Such things are said
by some to be known to God according to His knowledge
of simple intelligence.
On the other hand things which to us are present, past,
or future, are known to God as being not only in His
power, but also in their respective causes, and in them-
selves. Of such things God is said to have knowledge of
vision, because God sees the existence of things which, in
142 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
relation to us, are not as yet, not only in their causes but
also in themselves, in as much as His eternity is by its
indivisibility present to all time.
Yet God knows every manner of a thing's being by His
essence. For His essence is capable of being represented
by many things that neither are, nor shall be, nor have
been. Moreover it is the likeness of every cause's power,
in respect of which effects pre-exist in their causes. And
the being that every single thing has in itself is drawn as
a copy from Him.
Wherefore God knows not-beings in so far as they have
being after a fashion, either in the divine power, or in their
causes, or in themselves. And this is not contrary to the
essential conditions of knowledge.
The authority of Holy Writ also bears witness to the
foregoing. For it is written (Ecclus. xxiii. 29) : All things
were known to the Lord God, before they were created; so
also after they were perfected He knoweth 1 all things ; and
(Jer. i. 5) : Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee.
It is clear from what has been said, that we are not
compelled to say, as some have said, that God knows all
singulars universally, because He knows them in their
universal causes only, even as one who knows a particular
eclipse, not as this particular one, but as resulting from
opposition : since it has been proved 2 that the divine know-
ledge extends to singulars as existing in themselves.
THAT GOD KNOWS FUTURE CONTINGENT SINGULARS
From the foregoing it is already somewhat evident that
from eternity God has had unerring knowledge of singular
contingencies, and that nevertheless they cease not to be
For contingency is not incompatible with certainty of
knowledge except in so far as it is future, and not as it is
* Vulg., beholdeth. 2 Chs. 1., lxv. 3 Cf. ch. lxiv.
CHAPTER LXVII 143
present. Because a contingency, while future, may not be ;
so that the knowledge of one who thinks it will be, may be
wrong, and it will be wrong if what he thinks will be, will
not be. From the moment however that it is, for the time
being it cannot not-be : although it may not be in the
future, but this affects the contingency, not as present but
as future. Hence sense loses nothing of its certainty when
it sees that a man is running, although this statement is
contingent. Accordingly all knowledge that bears on a
contingency as present, can be certain. Now the vision
of the divine intellect from eternity sees each thing that
happens in time as though it were present, as we have
shown above. 1 Therefore it follows that nothing prevents
God having unerring knowledge of contingencies from
Again. The contingent differs from the necessary
according as each is in its cause : for the contingent is in
its cause in such a way that it may not result, or may result
therefrom : whereas the necessary cannot but result from
its cause. But according as each of them is in itself, they
differ not as to being, on which the true is founded : because
there is not in the contingent, considered as it is in itself,
being and not-being, but only being, although it is possible
for the contingent not to be in the future. Now the divine
intellect knows things from eternity, not only as to the
being which they have in their causes, but also as to the
being which they have in themselves. 2 Therefore nothing
prevents it having eternal and unerring knowledge of
Moreover. Even as the effect follows certainly from a
necessary cause, so does it from a complete contingent cause
unless it be hindered. Now, since God knows all things,
as was proved above, 3 He knows not only the causes of
contingencies, but also that which may possibly hinder
them. Therefore He knows certainly whether con-
tingencies be or not.
Again. An effect does not happen to exceed its cause;
1 Ch. lxvi. 2 Ch. lxvi. 3 Ch. 1.
i 4 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
but sometimes it falls short of it. Hence, since in us know-
ledge is caused from things, it happens at times that we
know necessary things, by way not of necessity but of
probability. Now, just as with us things are the cause of
knowledge, so the divine knowledge is the cause of the
things known. 1 Nothing therefore prevents things
whereof God has necessary knowledge being contingent in
Further. An effect cannot be necessary if its cause be
contingent, for it would follow that an effect exists after
its cause has been removed. Now the ultimate effect has
both a proximate and a remote cause. Hence if the proxi-
mate cause be contingent, its effect must needs be con-
tingent, even though the remote cause be necessary : thus
plants do not necessarily bear fruit — although the motion
of the sun is necessary — on account of the contingent inter-
mediate causes. But God's knowledge, although it is the
cause of the things it knows, is nevertheless their remote
cause. Wherefore the contingency of the things it knows
does not militate with its necessity : since it happens that
the intermediate causes are contingent.
Again. God's knowledge would not be true and perfect,
if things happened not in the same way as God knows them
to happen. Now God, since He is cognizant of all being,
whereof He is the source, knows each effect not only in
itself, but also in its relation to every one of its causes.
But the relation of contingencies to their proximate causes,
is, that they result from them contingently. Therefore God
knows that certain things happen and that they happen
contingently. Wherefore the certainty and truth of the
divine knowledge do not take away the contingency of things.
It is therefore clear from what has been said how
we are to refute the objection 2 gainsaying God's know-
ledge of contingencies. For change in that which is
subsequent does not argue changeableness in that which
precedes : since it happens that contingent ultimate effects
result from necessary first causes. Now the things known
1 Cf. ch. lxv. a Cf. ch. lxiii. : The third ... p. 133.
CHAPTER LXVII 145
to God do not precede His knowledge, as is the case with
us, but are subsequent thereto. Therefore it does not
follow that, if what is known to God be changeable, His
knowledge can err or in any way be changeable. It will
therefore be a fallacy of consequence if, because our know-
ledge of changeable things is changeable, we think that
this happens in all knowledge.
Again, when we say God knows or knew this future
thing, we imply a kind of middle term between the divine
knowledge and the thing known, namely the time at which
the statement is made, in relation to which that which God
is said to know is future. But it is not future in relation
to the divine knowledge, which existing in the moment of
eternity, is related to all things as though they were
present. In relation to that knowledge, if we set aside the
time at which the statement is made, there is no saying that
the thing is known as non-existent, so as to allow of the
question being raised as to whether it is possible for the
thing not to be : but it will be said to be known by God
as already seen in its existence. This being supposed,
there is no room for the aforesaid question : since what is
already, cannot, as regards that instant, not be. The
fallacy arises then from the fact that the time at which we
speak is coexistent with eternity, as also does past time
(which is designated when we say God knew) : wherefore
the relation of past or present to future time is ascribed to
eternity, which is altogether inapplicable thereto. The
result is a fallacy of accident.
Further, if every single thing is known to God as seen
present to Him, that which God knows will be so far
necessary as it is necessary that Socrates is sitting from the
fact that he is seen to be sitting. Now this is necessary,
not absolutely or as some say by necessity of consequent,
but conditionally, or by necessity of consequence. For this
conditional statement is necessary : // he is seen to sit, he
sits. Wherefore if the conditional be rendered categori-
cally, so as to run, That which is seen to sit, necessarily
sits, it is clear that if it be referred to the statement, and in
146 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
a composite sense, it is true, and if referred to the thing and
in a divided sense, it is false. And so in these and in all
like arguments employed by those who gainsay God's
knowledge of contingencies, there is a fallacy of composi-
tion and division.
That God knows future contingencies is also proved by
the authority of Holy Writ. For it is said (Wis. viii. 8)
about the divine Wisdom : She knoiveth signs and wonders
before they be done, and the events of time and ages: and
(Ecclus. xxxix. 24, 25) : There is nothing hid from His
eyes, He seeth from eternity to eternity : and (Isa. xlviii. 5) :
I foretold thee of old; before they came to pass I told thee.
THAT GOD KNOWS THE MOVEMENTS OF THE WILL
In the next place we must show that God knows our mind's
thoughts and our secret wills.
For everything, in whatever way it exists, is known by
God, in as much as He knows His essence, as we have
shown above. 1 Now some things are in the soul, and some
in things outside the soul. Wherefore God knows all
these differences of things and whatever is contained under
them. Now the things in the soul are those that are in our
will or our thought. It remains, therefore, that God knows
what we have in our thoughts and wills.
Moreover. God so knows other things in knowing His
essence, as effects are known through their cause being
known. 2 Accordingly by knowing His essence God knows
all the things to which His causality extends. Now this
extends to the works of the intellect and will : for, since
every thing acts by its form which gives the thing some
kind of being, it follows that the highest source of all being,
from which also every form is derived, must be the source
of all operation ; because the effects of second causes are to
1 Chs. xlix., 1. 2 Ibid.
CHAPTER LXVIII 147
be referred in a still higher degree to first causes. There-
fore God knows both the thoughts and the affections of the
Again. Even as His being is first and consequently the
cause of all being, so His act of intelligence is first, and
consequently the cause of all intellectual operation.
Wherefore just as God by knowing His being knows the
being of everything, so by knowing His act of intelligence
and will He knows every thought and will.
Further. God knows things not only as existing in
themselves, but also as existing in their causes, as proved
above: 1 for He knows the relation between cause and
effect. Now the products of art are in the craftsman
through the intellect and will of the craftsman, even as
natural things are in their causes through the powers of the
causes : for, just as natural things liken their effects to
themselves by their active powers, so the craftsman by his
intellect gives his handiwork the form whereby it is likened
to his art. It is the same with all things done of set pur-
pose. Therefore God knows both our thoughts and our
Again. Intelligible substances are no less known to
God than sensible substances are known to Him or to us :
since intelligible substances are more knowable, for as
much as they are more actual. Now the informations and
inclinations of sensible substances are known both to God
and to us. Consequently, since the soul's thought results
from its being informed, and since its affection is its in-
clination towards something — for even the inclination of a
natural thing is called its natural appetite — it follows that
God knows our secret thoughts and affections.
This is confirmed by the testimony of Holy Writ. For
it is said in the psalm : 2 The searcher of hearts and reins is
God: and (Prov. xv. 11) : Hell and destruction are before
the Lord: how much more the hearts of the children of
men; and (Jo. ii. 25) : He knew what was in man.
The dominion which the will exercises over its own acts,
1 Ch. lxvi. 2 Ps. vii. 10.
148 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
and by which it is in its power to will and not to will,
removes the determination of the power to one thing, and
the violence of a cause acting from without : but it does
not exclude the influence of a higher cause from which it
has being and action. Thus causality remains in the first
cause which is God, in respect of the movements of the
will ; so that God is able to know them by knowing Himself.
THAT GOD KNOWS INFINITE THINGS
We must next prove that God knows infinite things. For
in knowing that He is the cause of things He knows things
other than Himself, as was shown above. 1 Now He is the
cause of infinite things, if there be infinite things, since He
is the cause of whatever is. Therefore He knows infinite
Again. God knows His own power perfectly, as was
proved above. 2 Now a power cannot be known perfectly
unless all the things to which it extends be known, since
its quantity is gauged in a manner according to them. But
His power, being infinite as we have shown, 3 extends to
infinite things. Therefore God knows infinite things.
Moreover. If God's knowledge extends to all things
that exist, in whatever way they exist, as we have shown, 4
it follows that He knows not only actual being but also
potential being. Now in natural things there is the infinite
potentially although not actually, as the Philosopher proves
in 3 Phys. 6 Therefore God knows infinite things : even as
unity, which is the principle of number, would know infinite
species of numbers, if it knew whatever is potentially in it ;
for unity is every number potentially.
Again. God knows other things in His essence as in
a prototypical medium. 6 Now since He is infinitely per-
1 Ch. xlix. 2 Ch. xlvii. 3 Ch. xliii.
4 C/. ch. 1. 6 iv. seqq. 6 Ch. xlix.
CHAPTER LXIX 149
feet, as was shown above, 1 it is possible for an infinite
number of things with finite perfections to be copied from
Him ; since it is impossible for any single one, or any
number of copies, to equal the example of their prototype,
and thus there always remains some new way in which
some copy can imitate it. Nothing therefore prevents Him
from knowing infinite things by His essence.
Further. God's being is His act of understanding. 2
Therefore even as His being is infinite, as shown above, 3
so His act of understanding is infinite. Now as finite is
to finite so is infinite to infinite. If therefore by our act
of understanding which is finite we are able to understand
finite things, God also by His act of understanding is able
to understand infinite things.
Moreover. According to the Philosopher (3 De Anima*)
an intellect which knows the supremely intelligible knows
the less intelligible not less but more: and the reason for
this is that the intellect is not corrupted by the excellence
of the intelligible, as the sense is, but is the more perfected.
Now if we take an infinite number of beings, whether they
be of the same species — as an infinite number of men — or
of an infinite number of species, even though some or all
of them be infinite in quantity, if this were possible ; all of
them together would be of less infinity than God : since
each one and all together would have being confined and
limited to a certain species or genus, and thus would be in
some way finite : wherefore it would fall short from the
infinity of God Who is infinite simply, as we proved
above. 5 Since, therefore, God knows Himself perfectly, 6
nothing prevents Him from also knowing that infinite
number of things.
Further. The more efficacious and clear an intellect is
in knowing, the greater the number of things is it able to
know from one : even as every power, the stronger it is,
the more united it is. Now the divine intellect is infinite
in effiacy or perfection, as was shown above. 7 Therefore
1 Ch. xliii. 2 Ch. xlv. 3 Ch. xliii. 4 iv. 5.
8 Ch. xliii. 8 Ch. xlvii. 7 Ch. xlv.
150 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
it can know an infinite number of things by one which is
Further. The divine intellect like the divine essence is
perfect simply. 1 Wherefore no intellectual perfection is
lacking thereto. Now that to which our intellect is in
potentiality is its intellectual perfection : and it is in poten-
tiality to all intelligible species. But these species are
infinite in number : since the species of numbers and
figures are infinite. It follows therefore that God knows
all like infinite things.
Again. Since our intellect is cognizant of the infinite
in potentiality, for as much as it is able to multiply the
species of numbers indefinitely ; if the divine intellect knew
not also the infinite in act, it would follow either that our
intellect knows more things than the divine intellect knows,
or that the divine intellect knows not actually all the things
that it knows potentially : and each of these is impossible,
as proved above. 2
Further. The infinite is repugnant to knowledge in so
far as it is incompatible with being counted : for it is in
itself impossible, as implying a contradiction, for the parts
of the infinite to be numbered. Now the knowledge of a
thing by counting its parts belongs to an intellect that knows
one part after another in succession, and not to one that
understands the various parts together. Since then the
divine intellect knows things together without succession,
it is no more hindered from knowing the infinite than from
knowing the finite.
Moreover. All quantity consists in a certain plurality
of parts, for which reason number is the first of quantities.
Accordingly where plurality involves no difference, neither
does it cause any difference consequent upon quantity.
Now in God's knowledge many things are known in the
same way as one, since they are known, not by various
species, but by one which is God's essence. 3 Wherefore
many things are known by God simultaneously : and con-
sequently plurality makes no difference in God's know-
1 Ch. xlv. 2 Cf. chs. xvi., xxix. 3 Ch. xlvi.
CHAPTER LXIX 151
ledge. Neither therefore does the infinite which is conse-
quent upon quantity. 1 Therefore knowledge, whether of
infinite or of finite things, differs not to the divine intellect.
And consequently, since it knows finite things, nothing
prevents it from knowing also infinite things.
The words of the psalm 2 are in agreement with this :
And of His wisdom there is no number.
From the foregoing it is clear why our intellect knows
not the infinite, as the divine intellect does. For our intel-
lect differs from the divine intellect in four respects, which
constitute this difference. In the first place, our intellect
is simply finite, whereas the divine intellect is infinite.
Secondly our intellect knows different things by different
species : wherefore it cannot grasp infinite things by one
knowledge, as the divine intellect can. The third difference
results from the fact that our intellect, since it knows
different things by different species, cannot know many
things at the same time, so that it cannot know an infinite
number of things except by taking them one after the other.
Whereas it is not so in the divine intellect, which considers
many things simultaneously, as seen by one species.
Fourthly, because the divine intellect is about things that
are and things that are not, as we proved above. 3
It is also clear how the saying of the Philosopher that the
infinite as such is unknown, is not in contradiction with
this statement. 4 For since, as he says, 5 the notion of
infinity is becoming to quantity, the infinite would be
known as such, if it were known by the measuring of its
parts : because this is proper knowledge of quantity. 6 But
God does not know thus. Wherefore, so to say, He knows
the infinite, not as such, but in as much as in comparison
with His knowledge it is finite, as we have shown.
It must be observed, however, that God does not know
infinite things by His knowledge of vision, 7 to use the ex-
pression employed by others, because the infinite neither
1 1 Phys. ii. 10. 2 Ps. cxlvi. 5. 3 Ch. Ixvi.
4 Cf. ch. lxiii. : The fifth ... p. 134. 5 1 Phys., I.e.
6 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xiv., A. 12 ad 1. 7 Cf. ch. Ixvi.
152 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
is, nor was, nor will be actual ; since, according to the
Catholic faith, generation is not infinite on either part.
Yet He knows the infinite by His knowledge of simple
intelligence. For God knows the infinite number of things
that neither are, nor will be, nor have been, and neverthe-
less are in the power of a creature. He knows also the
infinite things that are in His power, that neither are, nor
have been, nor shall be.
Wherefore as regards the question about the knowledge
of singulars, we might reply by denying the major premiss :
since singulars are not infinite. If, however, they were,
God would know them none the less.
THAT GOD KNOWS TRIVIAL THINGS
This being established, we must show that God knows
trivial things and that this is not inconsistent with the
nobility of His knowledge.
For the stronger an active power is, the further does its
action extend, as appears even in the action of sensible
things. Now the force of the divine intellect in knowing
things is likened to an active power : since the divine
intellect knows, not by receiving from things, but rather by
pouring itself into them. Since, then, it is of infinite
power in understanding, as shown above, 1 it follows that
its knowledge extends to the most remote things. Now the
degrees of nobility and meanness in all beings depend on
nearness to and distance from God, Who is in the summit
of nobility. Therefore God, on account of the exceeding
power of His intellect, knows things even thougih they be
in the last degree trivial.
Further. Whatever is, for as much as it exists, or is
such, is actual, and a likeness of the first act, and for this
reason has nobility. Again whatever is in potentiality,
1 Ch. xlv.
CHAPTER LXX 153
has a share of nobility through its being ordained to
actuality : for so is it said to be. It follows, therefore, that
everything, considered in itself, is noble ; but is said to be
mean in comparison with that which is more noble. Now
the noblest of things other than God are no less distant from
Him than the lowest creatures are from the highest. If,
therefore, this latter distance hindered God's knowledge,
much more would the former : and thus it would follow
that God knows nothing other than Himself ; which has
been disproved above. 1 If, therefore, He knows some-
thing other than Himself, however most noble it may be,
for the same reason He knows everything, no matter how
mean we call it.
Moreover. The good of the order in the universe is more
noble than any part of the universe, because each part is
directed to the good of the order in the whole, as to its end,
as the Philosopher states in n Metaph. 2 If then God
knows some other noble nature, most of all must He know
the order of the universe. But this cannot be known
unless both noble and mean things be known, because the
order of the universe consists in their mutual distances and
relationships. It follows therefore that God knows not
only noble things, but also those that are deemed trivial.
Further. The meanness of things known does not of
itself reflect on the knower : for it belongs to the nature of
knowledge that the knower contains the species of the
things he knows, according to his mode. And yet the
meanness of things known may reflect accidentally on the
knower : either because while considering mean things he
is withdrawn from the thought of noble things, or because
through considering mean things he is inclined to certain
undue affections. But this cannot take place in God, as
appears from what has been said. 3 Therefore the knowledge
of trivial things is not derogatory to the nobility of God;
rather does it belong to His perfection, for as much as He
prepossesses all things in Himself, as we have shown
1 Ch. xlix. 2 x. i. 3 Chs. xxxix., lv. * Ch. xxix.
154 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Again. A power is accounted little, not through being
capable of little things, but through being confined to little
results : since a power that is capable of great things is also
capable of little ones. Accordingly knowledge that com-
prises both noble and trivial things is not to be accounted
trivial, but only that which comprises none but trivial
things, as happens with us : for our thoughts of divine
things are distinct from our thoughts of human things,
and of each we have a distinct knowledge; wherefore in
comparison with the more noble, the less noble is accounted
mean. But it is not thus in God : because He considers
all things with the same thought and knowledge. 1 There-
fore no meanness is to be ascribed to His knowledge, on
account of His knowing any mean things whatever.
In accord with this is the saying of Wis. vii. 24, 25 about
divine Wisdom, that She reacheth everywhere by reason
of Her purity . . . and no defiled thing cometh into Her.
It is clear from what has been said that the argument put
forward in opposition 2 is not subversive of the truth we have
demonstrated. For the nobility of a science depends on
the principal object of that science and not on whatever
may come under that science : because with us not only the
highest but also the lowest beings come under the most
noble of sciences : for the treatise of Metaphysics extends
from the first being to potential being, which is the lowest
of all beings. Thus then the divine knowledge comprises
the lowest beings as being known at the same time with the
object known principally, for the divine essence is the
principal object of God's knowledge, and in it He knows
all things, as we have shown above. 3
It is also evident that this truth is not in contradiction
with the statements of the Philosopher in 1 1 Metaph.* For
there he intends to prove that the divine intellect knows not
something other than Himself, that is a perfection of His
intellect as the principal object of its knowledge. And in
this sense he states that it is better not to know mean things
1 Ch. xlvi. 2 Cf. ch. lxiii. : The sixth ... p. 134.
3 Chs. xlviii., xlix. 4 ix. 2, 3.
CHAPTER LXXI 155
than to know them: when, that is, knowledge of trivial
things is distinct from the knowledge of noble things, and
the thought of mean things is an obstacle to the thought
of noble things.
THAT GOD KNOWS EVIL THINGS
It remains now to be proved that God knows evil things.
For if a good be known the opposite evil is known. Now
God knows all the particular goods to which evils are
opposed. Therefore God knows evil things.
Further. The notions of contraries in the mind are not
opposed to one another, else they would not be together
in the mind, nor would they be known at the same time.
Therefore the aspect under which we know evil is not
repugnant to good, rather is it connected with the idea of
good. Accordingly if, as we have proved above, 1 all the
aspects of goodness are to be found in God, by reason of
His absolute perfection, it follows that in Him is the notion
by which evil is known. Therefore He knows evils also.
Again. The true is the good of the intellect: 2 for an
intellect is said to be good for as much as it knows the true.
Now it is not only true that good is good, but also that evil
is evil : for just as it is true that what is, is, so is it true that
what is not, is not. Hence the good of the intellect con-
sists even in the knowledge of evil. But, since the divine
intellect is perfect in goodness, 3 it cannot possibly lack any
intellectual perfection. Therefore it has the knowledge of
Moreover. God knows the distinction between things,
as shown above. 4 Now the notion of distinction includes
negation, for when things are distinct, the one is not the
other. Hence primaries which are distinguished by them-
selves, include mutual negation of one another, and for this
reason negative propositions about them are self-evident,
for instance, No quantity is a substance. Therefore God
1 Ch. XL 3 6 Ethic, ii. 3. 3 Ch. xli. * Ch. 1.
156 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
knows negation. Now privation is negation in a definite
subject, as is proved in 4 Metaph. 1 Therefore He knows
privation, and consequently evil, which is nothing else than
the privation of due perfection.
Further. If God knows all the species of things, as was
proved above, 2 and as granted and proved even by some
philosophers, it follows that He knows contraries ; both
because the species of certain genera are contrary, and
because the differences of genera are contrary, as stated in
10 Metaph. 3 Now contraries include opposition of form
and of privation, according to the same authority. 4 There-
fore it follows that God knows privation and, consequently,
Again. God knows not only form but also matter, as
was proved above. 5 Now matter, since it is being in
potentiality, cannot be known perfectly, unless it be known
to what its potentiality extends, and this applies to all
kinds of power. But the potentiality of matter extends to
both form and privation : for that which can be, can also
not be. Therefore God knows privation : and consequently
He knows evil.
Again. If God knows anything besides Himself, most
of all He knows that which is best : and this is the order of
the universe, to which as their end all particular goods are
directed. 6 Now in the order of the universe there are
certain things intended for the removal of harms that might
result from certain other things, as evidenced by the means
of defence with which animals are provided. Therefore
God knows these harms : and thus He knows evils.
Further. We are never blamed for knowing evils, as
regards that which belongs essentially to knowledge, that
is, as regards judgment about evil, but only accidentally,
for as much as sometimes one is inclined to evil through
thinking about it. But it is not so in God, for He is un-
changeable, as was proved above. 7 Nothing therefore
hinders God from knowing evils.
1 D. 3. ii. 8. 2 Ch. 1. 3 D. 9. viii. 4 D. 9. iv. 6.
5 Ch. lxv. 6 11 Mflapli. x. 7 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER LXXI 157
In agreement with this it is written (Wis. viii.) that no
evil can overcome God's wisdom; 1 and (Prov. xv. 11) that
Hell and destruction are before the Lord. Also in the
psalm 2 it is said : My offences are not hidden from Thee;
and (Job xi. 11) : For He knoweth the vanity of men, and
when He seeth iniquity, doth He not consider it?
It must however be observed that with regard to the
knowledge of evil and privation there is a difference between
the divine intellect and ours. 3 For seeing that our intellect
knows each thing by its respective proper and distinct
species, it knows that which is in act by an intelligible
species, whereby the intellect is made actual. Hence it is
able to know potentiality, in as much as it is sometimes in
potentiality to such a species : and thus just as it knows act
by means of an act, so it knows potentiality by means of
potentiality. And since potentiality belongs to the notion
of privation, for privation is a negation the subject whereof
is a being in potentiality, it follows that it is becoming to
our intellect to know privation, in some way, in as much
as it is naturally fitted to be in potentiality ; although we
may also say that the mere knowledge of actuality leads to
the knowledge of potentiality and privation.
On the other hand, the divine intellect, which is nowise
in potentiality, knows neither privation nor anything else
in the above manner. 4 For if He knew anything by a
species other than Himself, it would follow of necessity that
He is compared to that species as potentiality to act. It
follows therefore that He understands only by a species
that is His essence : and consequently that He understands
Himself as the first object of His understanding : and yet
in understanding Himself He understands other things, as
shown above, 5 and not only acts but potentialities and
This is what the Philosopher means when he says (3 De
Anima 6 ) : How does it know evil, or black? For it knows
1 vii. 30. 2 Ps. lxviii. 6.
3 Cf. ch. lxiii. : The seventh ... p. 134. 4 Cf. ch. xlv. seqq.
6 Ch. xlix. 6 vi. 5, 6.
158 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
contraries 1 somewhat. And it must know them by a poten-
tiality that is in itself. But if anything there be in which
the contrary is not (namely in potentiality), it knows itself,
and is in act and separable. Nor is it necessary to admit
the explanation of Averroes who maintains that it follows
from the above that the intellect which is pure act knows
a privation not at all. But the sense is that it knows priva-
tion, not through being in potentiality to something else,
but through knowing itself and being always in act.
Again, it must be observed that if God knew Himself
in such a way that by knowing Himself He knew not other
beings which are particular goods, He would have no
knowledge whatever of privation or evil. Because there is
no privation contrary to the good that is Himself : since a
privation and its contrary are naturally adapted to be in
relation to the same thing, and so no privation, and there-
fore no evil, is opposed to that which is pure act. Where-
fore, supposing God to know Himself alone, He would not
know evil through knowing the good which is Himself.
But, since by knowing Himself He knows things in which
there is a natural aptness for privations, it follows of neces-
sity that He knows the opposite privation, and the evils
contrary to particular goods.
It must also be observed that, just as God by knowing
Himself knows other things without any discursion of His
intellect, as shown above, 2 so too there is no need for His
knowledge to be discursive, if He knows evil through good.
For good is the ratio as it were of the knowledge of evil, so
that evil is known through good, as a thing through its
definition, and not as conclusions through their premisses.
Nor does it argue imperfection in the divine knowledge if
God knows evil through the privation of good : because
evil does not indicate being except in so far as it is a priva-
tion of good. Wherefore in this way alone is it knowable :
since a thing is so far knowable as it has being.
1 Aristotle, rw (vnvrim, he knows them by their contraries.
8 Ch. lvii. '
CHAPTER LXXII 159
THAT IN GOD THERE IS WILL
After discussing the matters concerning the knowledge of
the divine intellect it remains for us to consider the divine
For from the fact that there is intelligence in God it
follows that in Him there is will. Because, since |he good
understood is the proper object of the will, it follows that
the good understood, as such, is willed. Now understood
indicates a reference to one who understands. It follows
therefore of necessity that one who understands good, as
such, has a will. Now God understands good: for since
He is perfectly intelligent, as shown above, 1 He under-
stands being simultaneously with the notion of good.
Therefore in Him there is will.
Again. Whatever has a form, is thereby related to
things actually existing : thus white timber by its whiteness
is like some things and unlike others. Now in intelligent
and sentient subjects there is the form of the thing under-
stood and sensed, because all knowledge is through some
likeness. Therefore there must be a relation in the intel-
ligent or sentient subject to the things understood or
sensed according as the latter actually exist. Now this is
not due to the fact that they understand or sense, because
in this respect rather is there a relation in things to the
intelligent or sentient subject, since intelligence and sensa-
tion depend on things being in the intellect and sense,
according to the respective modes of each. But the
sentient and the intelligent subject have by the will and
appetite a relation to things outside the mind. Wherefore
every sentient and intelligent subject has an appetite and
will, although properly speaking, will is in an intellect.
Since then God is intelligent, it follows that He has a will.
Moreover. That which is consequent upon every being,
1 Chs. xliv., xlv.
160 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
belongs to being as such : and a thing of this kind must
needs be found especially in that which is the first being.
Now it is competent to every being to desire its own perfec-
tion and the preservation of its being : and to each one this
is competent according to its mode, to intelligent beings by
will, to animals by sensitive appetite, to those that are
devoid of sense by natural appetite : to those however who
have it otherwise than to those who have it not : for those
who have it not, by the appetitive power of their genus tend
with desire to acquire what is lacking to them, whereas
those who have it are at rest therein. Wherefore this can-
not be lacking to the first being, which is God. Since, then,
He is intelligent, there is will in Him, whereby His being
and His goodness are pleasing to Him.
Again. The more perfect the act of understanding is,
the more delightful is it to the one who understands. Now
God understands, and His act of understanding is most
perfect, as was proved above. 1 Therefore to understand is
to Him most delightful. But intellectual delight is by the
will, even as sensitive delight is by the appetite of con-
cupiscence. Therefore there is will in God.
Further. A form considered by the intellect neither
moves nor causes anything except through the medium of
the will, whose object is an end and a good by which one
is moved to act. Wherefore the speculative intellect does
not move; nor does the sole imagination without the
estimative power. Now the form of the divine intellect is
the cause of being and movement in other things, for God
moves things by His intellect, as we shall prove further
on. 2 .^Therefore it follows that He has a will.
Again. The first of motive powers in intelligent beings
is the will : because the will applies every power to its act :
for we understand because we will, we imagine because we
will, and so forth. And the will has this because its object
is the end — although the intellect, not by way of efficient
and moving cause, but by way of final, cause-, moves the
will, by putting its object before it, which object is the end. "
1 Chs. xliv., xlv. 2 Bk. II., ch. xxiv.
CHAPTER LXXII 161
Therefore it is especially fitting that the first mover should
have a will.
Further. The free is that which is its own cause r 1 and
so the free has the aspect of that which is of itself. Now
liberty of action is seated primarily in the will, for in so
far as one acts voluntarily, one is said to perform any action
whatever freely. Therefore it is especially fitting that the
first agent should act by will, since to Him it is most com-
petent to act of Himself.
Moreover. The end and the agent intending the end are
always of the same order in things : wherefore the proxi-
mate end which is proportionate to the agent, is of the same
species as the agent, in works both of nature and of art :
for the form of the art whereby the craftsman works is the
species of the form that is in matter, and is the end of the
craftsman ; and the form of the generating fire, whereby
the fire acts, is of the same species as the form of the fire
generated, which form is the end of the generation. 2 Now
nothing is co-ordinate with God as though it were of the
same order, except God Himself, otherwise there would be
several first beings, and we thave shown the contrary to
be the case. 3 He is therefore the first agent intending an
end which is Himself. Therefore He not only is a desir-
able end, but also desires Himself, so to speak, as an end ;
and, since He is intelligent, He desires Himself by intellec-
tual appetite; and this is will. Therefore in God there is
Holy Writ bears witness to this will of God. For it is
said in the psalm : 4 Whatsoever the Lord willed, He hath
done: and (Rom. ix. 19) : Who resisteth His will?
1 1 Metaph. ii. 9. 2 £f. 2 Phys. vii. 3.
3 Ch. xlii. * Ps. cxxxiv. 6.
i6 2 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT GOD'S WILL IS HIS ESSENCE
It is evident from the foregoing that His will is not dis-
tinct from His essence.
For it belongs to God to have a will in as much as He
has an intellect, as proved above. 1 Now He is intelligent
by His essence, as we have already shown: 2 and conse-
quently will also is in Him by His essence. Therefore
God's will is His very essence.
Again. Even as to understand is the perfection of one who
is intelligent, so to will is the perfection of one who wills,
for each is an action abiding in the agent, and not passing
into something passive, as heating. Now God's act of
intelligence is His being, as we proved above; 8 because,
since God's being is by itself supremely perfect, it admits
of no additional perfection, as we have shown above. 4
Therefore the divine willing is also His being : and conse-
quently God's will is His essence.
Moreover. Since every agent acts in so far as it is
actual, it follows that God, Who is pure act, acts by His
essence. Now willing is an operation of God. Therefore
it follows that God wills by His essence. Therefore His
will is His essence.
Again. If will were something added to the divine
substance, since the divine substance is complete in being,
it would follow that will would be adventitious to Him
like an accident to its subject; that the divine substance
would be compared thereto as potentiality to act ; and that
there is composition in God. All of which have been dis-
proved above. 5 It is therefore impossible for the divine
will to be something in addition to the divine essence.
1 Ch. lxxii. 2 Chs. xlv., xlvi.
3 Ch. xlv. 4 Chs. xxiii., xxviii.
5 Chs. xvi., xviii., xxiii.
CHAPTER LXXIV 163
THAT THE PRINCIPAL OBJECT OF GOD'S WILL IS THE DIVINE
It is also evident from the foregoing that the principal
object of God's will is His essence.
For the good understood is the object of the will, as
proved above. 1 Now the principal object of God's intel-
lect is the divine essence, as we have already proved. 2
Therefore the divine essence is the principal object of tihe
Again. The appetible object is compared to the appetite
as mover to the thing moved, as we have stated above. 3 It
is the same with the thing willed in relation to the will,
since the will belongs to the genus of appetitive powers.
Wherefore if something besides God's essence were t!he
principal object of God's will, it would follow that some-
thing else is superior to, and moves the divine will : and
the contrary of this was proved above. 4
Further. The principal thing willed is to every wilier the
cause of his willing : for when we say : / wish to walk that
I may be healed, we consider that we are stating the reason,
and if it be asked, Why do you wish to be healed? we shall
continue to give reasons until we come to the last end which
is the principal thing willed, and is of itself the cause of
willing. Accordingly if God wills principally something
other than Himself, it follows that something other than
Himself is the cause of His willing. But His willing is
His being, as we have shown. 6 Therefore something else
will be the cause of His being : and this is contrary to the
notion of the first being.
Again. To every wilier the thing willed principally is
his last end : because the end is willed by reason of itself,
and other things come to be willed by reason of it. Now
1 Ch. lxxii. 2 Ch. xlviii. 3 Ch. xliv.
* Ch. lxxiii. 6 ift dm
i6 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
God is the last end, because He is the sovereign good, as
was proved. 1 Therefore He is the principal object of His
Moreover. Every power is proportionate to its principal
object according to equality : for the power of a thing is
measured according to its object, as the Philosopher says
(t Cceli et Mundi 2 ). Therefore the will is proportionate
according to equality to its principal object, as well as the
intellect and the senses. Now nothing is proportionate
according to equality to God's will, except His essence.
Therefore the principal object of the divine will is the divine
essence. A'nd since the divine essence is God's act of
understanding and whatsoever else is said to be in God, it
is also clear that in the same way God wills principally, to
will, to understand, to be one and so forth.
THAT GOD IN WILLING HIMSELF WILLS ALSO OTHER THINGS
Hence it may be proved that in willing Himself He wills
other things also.
For He who wills the end principally, wills the means to
the end for the sake of that end. Now God Himself is the
last end of things, as appears sufficiently from what we have
said. 3 From the fact therefore that He wills Himself to be,
He wills also other things, that are directed to Himself as
Again. Every thing desires the perfection of that which
it wills and loves for its own sake : because whatever we
love for its own saKe, we wish to be best, and ever to be
bettered and multiplied as much as possible. Now God
wills and loves His essence for its own sake : and it cannot
be increased or multiplied in itself, as appears from what
has been said :* and can only be multiplied in respect of its
likeness which is shared by many. 8 Therefore God wishes
1 Ch. xli. s xi. 6. 3 Ch. Ixxiv.
4 Ch. xlii. 6 Ch. xxix. I
CHAPTER LXXV 165
things to be multiplied, because He wills and loves His
essence and perfection.
Moreover. Whosoever loves a thing in itself and for its
own sake, loves in consequence all the things wherein it is
found : thus he who loves sweetness for its own sake, must
needs love all sweet things. Now God wills and loves His
own being, in itself and for its own sake, as we have proved
above. 1 And all other being is a participation, by likeness,
of His being, as was made sufficiently clear by what we
have said above. 2 Therefore, from the very fact that God
wills and loves Himself, it follows that He wills and loves
Again. God, in willing Himself, wills all things that
are in Him. Now all things pre-exist in Him somewhat by
their proper types, as we have proved. 3 Therefore in
willing Himself, God wills other things.
Again. As stated above, 4 the greater a thing's power, to
so many more things, and to the greater distance does its
causality extend. Now the causality of an end consists in
other things being desired for its sake. Wherefore the
more perfect and the more willed an end is, to so many
more things does the will of him who wills that end extend
by reason of that end. But the divine essence is most
perfect considered under the aspect of goodness and end.
Therefore it will extend its causality most of all to many
things, so that many be willed for its sake, especially by
God, Who wills it perfectly with all His might.
Further. Will is consequent upon intellect. Now God
by His intellect understands Himself principally, and other
things in Himself. 5 Therefore in like manner He wills
Himself principally, and in willing Himself, He wills all
This is confirmed by the authority of Holy Writ : for it
is written (Wis. xi. 25) : For Thou lovest all things that are,
and hatest none of the things which Thou hast made.
1 Ch. lxxiv. 2 Ch. xxix. 3 Ch. liv.
1 Ch. lxx. 5 Ch , xlix>
166 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT GOD, BY THE ONE ACT OF HIS WILL, WILLS HIMSELF AND
This being proved, it follows that God, by one act of His
will, wills Himself and other things.
For every power tends by one operation or act to its
object and the formal aspect of that object : even as by the
one sight, we see light and colour made visible by light.
Now when we will something solely for the sake of an end,
that which is desired for the sake of the end takes its aspect
of thing willed from the end; and thus the end is compared
to it as the formal aspect to an object, as light to colour.
Since, then, God wills all things for His own sake as for
the sake of an end, as we have proved, 1 He wills Himself
and other things by one act of His will.
Moreover. That which is perfectly known and desired
is known and desired with respect to its whole virtue. Now
the virtue of an end consists not only in its being desired for
its own sake, but also in other things being made desirable
for its sake. Wherefore he that desires an end perfectly,
desires it in both these ways. But it cannot be admitted
that God has an act whereby He wills Himself without
willing Himself perfectly, since in Him there is nothing
imperfect. 2 Hence by every act in which God wills Him-
self, He wills Himself absolutely, and other things for His
own sake. And He wills not things other than Himself,
except because He wills Himself, as was proved above. 3
It follows therefore that not by distinct acts but by one and
the same act He wills Himself and other things.
Again. As appears from what has been said, 4 discursion
in the act of the cognitive faculty occurs when we know the
premisses apart from the conclusions, and draw the conclu-
sions from them : for if we were to see the conclusions in the
premisses themselves, simply through knowing the pre-
1 Ch. Ixxv. 2 Ch. xxviii. 3 Ch. Ixxv. * Ch. lvii.
CHAPTER LXXVI 167
misses, there would be no discursion, as neither is there
when we see something reflected in a mirror. Now just as
the premisses are related to the conclusions in speculative
matters, so are the ends to the means in practical and
appetitive matters : because even as we know conclusions
through their premisses, so does the end lead us to the
appetite and practice of the means. 1 Accordingly if a
person will the end and the means separately, there will be
discursion in his will. But there can be no such thing in
God, since He is outside all movement. 2 Therefore it
follows that God wills Himself and other things simul-
taneously by the one same act of His will.
Again. Since God always wills Himself, if He will
Himself by one, and other things by another act, it follows
that there are two acts of will in Him at the same time. But
this is impossible : since of one simple power there are not
at the one time two operations.
Further. In every act of the will the thing willed is com-
pared to the will as mover to moved. Wherefore if there
be an act of the divine will, by which He wills things other
than Himself, and which is distinct from the act whereby
He wills Himself, there will be in Him something else that
moves the divine will : and this is impossible.
Moreover. God's willing is His being as we have
proved. 3 But in God there is only one being. Therefore
in Him there is but one act of the will.
Again. It is becoming to God to will in as much as He
is intelligent. 4 Wherefore just as by one act He under-
stands Himself and other things, in as much as His essence
is the exemplar of all things, 5 so by one act He wills Him-
self and other things, in as much as His goodness is the
type of all goodness. 6
1 2 Phys. ix. 3.
2 Ch. xiii.
3 Ch. lxxiii.
4 Ch. lxxii.
6 Ch. xlix.
6 Ch. xl.
168 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT THE MULTITUDE OF THINGS WILLED IS NOT INCON-
SISTENT WITH THE DIVINE SIMPLICITY
Hence it follows that the multitude of things willed is not
inconsistent with the oneness and simplicity of the divine
For acts are distinguished according to their objects. If,
then, the plurality of things willed by God indicated any
kind of multitude in Him, it would follow that there is not
only one operation of the will in Him : and this is contrary
to what has been proved. 1
Again. It has been shown 2 that God wills other things
in as much as He wills His goodness. Wherefore things
stand in relation to His will for as much as they are com-
prised in His goodness. Now all things are one in His
goodness : because other things are in Him according to
His mode, to wit material things immaterially and multi-
tude unitedly, as we have shown above. 3 Hence it follows
that the plurality of things willed does not argue plurality
in the divine substance.
Further. The divine intellect and will are of equal
simplicity, since each is the divine substance, as we have
proved. 4 Now the multitude of things understood does not
involve multiplicity in the divine essence, nor composition
in His intellect. 5 Neither therefore does the multitude of
things willed prove either diversity in the divine essence
or composition in His will.
Moreover. The difference between knowledge and
appetite is, that knowledge results from the thing known
being somehow in the knower, whereas appetite does
not, but on the contrary, results from the appetite being
referred to the appetible thing, which the appetent seeks
and wherein it rests. For this reason good and evil which
1 Ch. lxxvi. 2 Ch. lxxv. 3 Ch. lviii.
4 Chs. xlv., lxxiii. 5 Ch. li. seqq.
CHAPTER LXXVIII 169
regard the appetite are in things, whereas true and false
which regard knowledge are in the mind, as the Philosopher
states in 6 Metaph. 1 Now it is not inconsistent with the
simplicity of a thing that it be referred to many, since even
unity is the principle of the multitude of numbers. There-
fore the multitude of things willed by God is not incon-
sistent with His simplicity.
THAT THE DIVINE WILL EXTENDS TO PARTICULAR GOODS
It is also evident from the foregoing that in order to safe-
guard the divine simplicity it is not necessary for us to say
that God wills other goods in a kind of universal way, in
so far as He wills Himself to be the source of the goods
which can flow from Him, and that He does not will them
For the act of willing is according to a comparison of
the wilier to the thing willed. Now the divine simplicity
does not forbid God's being compared to many things, even
to particulars : for He is said to be best or first even in com-
parison with singulars. Therefore His simplicity is not
inconsistent with His willing things other than Himself
even in special or particular.
Again. God's will is compared to other things in as
much as they partake of His goodness through being
ordered to the divine goodness which is to God the reason
of His willing. 2 Now not only the universe of good things,
but also each one of them derives its goodness as also its
being from the goodness of God. Therefore God's will
extends to each single good.
Moreover. According to the Philosopher (11 Metaph.) 3
there is a twofold good of order in the universe : one con-
sisting in the whole universe being directed to that which
is outside the universe, just as the army is directed to the
1 D. 5. iv. 1. 2 Ch. lxxv. 3 x. 1.
170 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
commander-in-chief : while the other consists in the parts
of the universe being directed to each other, as the parts of
an army : and the second order is for the sake of the first.
Now God, through willing Himself as end, wills other
things that are directed to Him as their end, as we have
proved. 1 Therefore He wills the good of the order of the
whole universe in relation to Himself, and the order of the
universe as regards the mutual relation of its parts. Now
the good of order arises from each single good. Therefore
He wills also singular goods.
Further. If God wills not the singular goods of which
the universe consists, it follows that the good of order is
in the universe by chance : for it is not possible that some
one part of the universe arranges all the particular goods
so as to produce the order of the universe; and only the
universal cause of the whole universe can do this, which
cause is God Who acts by His will, as we shall prove
further on. 2 But it is impossible for the order of the
universe to result from chance : since it would follow
a fortiori that other things which come afterwards are the
result of chance. Therefore it follows that God wills even
each particular good.
Again. The good understood as such is the object of
the will. 3 But God understands also particular goods, as
we have proved. 4 Therefore He also wills particular goods.
This is confirmed by the authority of Scripture which
sets forth (Gen. i.) the pleasure of the divine will in each
work, in the words : God saw the light that it was good, and
in like manner as to each work, and afterwards in reference
to all the works : God saw all that He had made, and they
were very good.
1 Ch. Ixxv. - Bk. II., ch. xxiii.
3 Ch. Ixxii. . 4 Ch. lxv.
THAT GOD WILLS EVEN THE THINGS THAT ARE NOT YET
Now if the act of willing is by comparison of the wilier to
the thing willed, someone might think that God wills only
the things that are : since relatives must needs be simul-
taneous, and if one cease the other ceases, as the Philoso-
pher teaches. 1 Wherefore if the act of willing is by
comparison of the wilier to the thing willed, no one can
will other things than those which are.
Moreover. Will relates to things willed, even as cause
and creator. Now not even God can be called Creator, or
Lord, or Father, except of the things that are. Neither
therefore can He be said to will other things than tihose
One might conclude further, if God's willing is un-
changeable, just as the divine being, and if He wills
nothing but what actually is, that He wills nothing but what
To these arguments some answer that things which are
not in themselves are in God and in His intellect. Where-
fore nothing prevents God willing things even which are
not in themselves, in so far as they are in Him.
This reply, however, is seemingly insufficient. For every
wilier is said to will a thing in so far as his will is referred
to the thing willed. Wherefore, if the divine will is not
referred to a thing willed that is not except in so far as it
is in God or in His intellect, it would follow that God wills
it merely because He wills it to be in Himself or in His
intellect. Yet those who make the above statements do
not mean this, but that God wills things which as yet are
not to be also in themselves.
Again, if the will be referred to the thing willed
through its object which is a good understood; the intellect
understands that the good is not only in (the intellect)
1 Catcg. v. 16.
172 SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
itself, but also in its own nature : and the will must be
referred to the thing willed not only as it is in the knower,
but also as it is in itself.
Accordingly we must say that, since the apprehended
good moves the will, the act of willing must needs follow
the condition of the apprehender, even as the movements
of other movables follow the condition of the mover which
is the cause of the movement. Now the relation of the
apprehender to the thing apprehended is consequent upon
the apprehension, because the apprehender is referred to
the thing apprehended through its apprehension thereof.
Now the apprehender apprehends the thing not only as it
is in the apprehender, but also as it is in its proper nature :
for we not only know that a thing is understood by us,
which is the same as the thing being in our intellect, but
also that it is, or has been, or will be in its proper nature.
Wherefore although the thing is then only in the knower,
yet the relation consequent upon the apprehension is
referred thereto not as it is in the knower, but as it is in its
proper nature which the apprehender apprehends.
Accordingly the relation of the divine will is to a non-
existent thing, as it is in its proper nature in reference to
a certain time, and not only as in God knowing it. There-
fore God wills the thing that is not now to be in reference
to a certain time, and He does not will merely to under-
stand it. Nor does the comparison hold with the relation
of wilier to thing willed, nor of creator to creature, nor of
maker to thing made, nor of Lord to the creature subject to
Him. For to will is an act abiding in the wilier, wherefore
it does not necessarily imply anything existing outside.
But to make, to create, and to govern denote an action
terminating in an external effect, without the existence of
which such an action is inconceivable.
CHAPTER LXXX 173
THAT GOD NECESSARILY WILLS HIS BEING AND HIS GOODNESS
From what has been proved above it follows that God wills
necessarily His being and His goodness, and that He can-
not will the contrary.
For it has been shown 1 that God wills His being - and
goodness as principal object, which is the reason of His
willing other things. Wherefore in everything willed by
Him He wills His being and goodness, just as the sight
sees light in every colour. Now it is impossible for God
not to will a thing actually, for He would be only poten-
tially willing; which is impossible, since His willing is His
being. 2 Therefore it is necessary for Him to will His being
and His goodness.
Again. Whoever wills, of necessity wills his last end:
thus man of necessity wills his own happiness, nor can he
will unhappiness. Now God wills Himself as last end, as
stated above. 3 Therefore He necessarily wills Himself to
be, nor can He will Himself not to be.
Moreover. The end in matters of appetite and action is
as an undemonstrable principle in speculative matters : 4
for just as in speculative matters conclusions are drawn
from principles, so in active and appetitive matters the
reason of all things to be done or desired is taken from the
end. Now, in speculative matters, the intellect necessarily
assents to the first undemonstrable principles, to the con-
traries of which it can nowise assent. Therefore the will
necessarily adheres to the last end, so as to be unable to
will the contrary. And thus, if the will of God has no other
end than Himself, 6 He necessarily wills Himself to be.
Again. All things, in as much as they are, are like to
God, Who is being first and foremost. 6 Now all things,
in as much as they are, love their own being naturally in
1 Ch. lxxiv. 2 Chs. xvi., lxxiii. 3 Ch. lxxiv.
4 2 Phys. ix. 3. 6 Ch. lxxiv. 8 Ch. xxix.
174 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
their own way. Much more therefore does God love His
own being - naturally. Now His nature is per se necessary
being, as was proved. 1 Therefore God necessarily wills
Himself to be.
Further. Every perfection and goodness which is in
creatures, belongs to God essentially, as we have proved
above. 2 But to love God is the highest perfection of the
rational creature : since by so doing man is, in a way,
united to God. Therefore this is in God essentially.
Therefore He loves Himself necessarily, and so He wills
Himself to be.
THAT GOD DOES NOT NECESSARILY WILL OTHER THINGS THAN
Now if God wills the divine goodness and being neces-
sarily, someone might think that He wills other things
necessarily also : since He wills all else by willing His own
goodness, as we have already proved. 3 Yet to tfiose who
look at it aright it is clear that He wills other things not
of necessity. For He wills other things as ordered to the
end which is His goodness.* Now the will is not necessarily
directed to the means, if the end is possible without them :
for the physician, supposing him to have the will to heal,
has no need to prescribe to the patient those remedies with-
out which He can heal the patient. Since, then, God's
goodness can be without other things, nay more, since
nothing accrues thereto from other things, He is under no
necessity to will other things through willing His own
Again. Since the good understood is the proper object
of the will, any concept of the intellect, provided it retains
an aspect of goodness, can be an object of the will. Where-
fore, although the being of a thing as such is good, and its
not-being an evil, the not-being of a thing can be an object
1 Ch. xiii. » Ch. xxviii. 3 Ch. Ixxv. 4 Ibid.
CHAPTER LXXXI 175
of the will by reason of some connected good which is
retained, albeit not of necessity : because it is good for a
thing to be, even though another be non-existent. Hence
that good alone is the will, according to its nature, unable
to will not to be, without the existence of which, the aspect
of good is wholly done away. Now such a good is God
alone. Wherefore the will, according to its nature, is able
to will the not-being of anything whatever except God.
Now will is in God according to its full capacity, since all
things in Him are in every way perfect. 1 Hence God can
will the not-being of anything whatever except Himself.
Therefore He does not necessarily will things other than
Moreover. God, by willing His own goodness, wills
other things to be, in as much as they partake of His good-
ness. 2 Now, since God's goodness is infinite, it can be
participated in an infinite number of ways, and in other
ways besides those in which it is participated by those
creatures which now are. If, then, through willing His
own goodness, He willed of necessity the things which par-
ticipate it, it would follow that He wills an infinite number
of creatures partaking of His goodness in an infinite num-
ber of ways. But this is clearly false : for if He willed it,
they would exist, since His will is the source of being to
things, as we shall prove further on. 3 Therefore He does
not necessarily will those things also that are not.
Again. A wise man, through willing the cause, wills the
effect which follows necessarily from the cause : for it would
be foolish to will that the sun exist above the earth, and that
there be no brightness of day. On the contrary, it is not
necessary for one through willing the cause to will an effect
which does not follow of necessity from the cause. Now
other things proceed from God not necessarily, as we shall
show further on.* Therefore it is not necessary that God
will other things through willing Himself.
Moreover. Things proceed from God as products of art
1 Ch. xxviii. ■ Ch. lxxv.
3 Bk. II., ch. xxiii. 4 Ibid.
176 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
from a craftsman, as we shall show further on. 1 Now the
craftsman, though he will himself to have his art, does not
necessarily will to produce his work. Therefore neither
does God necessarily will things other than Himself.
We must accordingly consider why it is that God knows of
necessity other things than Himself, whereas He wills them
not of necessity ; and yet through understanding and willing
Himself, He understands and wills other things. 2 The
reason is this. Because that the person who understands,
understands something, is due to the understanding person
being conditioned in a certain way, in so far as a thing is
actually understood through its likeness being in the person
who understands it. Whereas that the wilier wills some-
thing, is due to the thing willed being conditioned in some
way : since we will a thing either because it is an end, or
because it is directed to an end. Now the divine perfection
necessarily requires that all things should be in God, in
order that they may be understood in Him : 3 whereas the
divine goodness does not necessarily demand that the other
things which are directed to it as their end should exist.
For this reason it is necessary that God should know, but
not will, other things. Wherefore neither does He will all
things that can possibly be directed to His goodness :
although He knows all that can in any way be directed to
His essence, whereby He understands.
OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE STATEMENT THAT GOD WILLS NOT
OF NECESSITY THINGS OTHER THAN HIMSELF, IN THAT IT
Nevertheless it would seem to lead to impossibilities if
God does not necessarily will the things that He wills.
For if God's will is not determined in respect of certain
things that He wills, it would seem that He is indifferent.
1 Bk. II., ch. xxiv. 2 Chs. xlix., lxxv. 3 Ch. 1.
CHAPTER LXXXII 177
Now every power that is indifferent is somewhat in poten-
tiality : since the indifferent is a species of possible con-
tingency. Therefore God's will would be in potentiality :
and consequently it would not be God's substance, wherein
there is no potentiality, as we have shown above. 1
Again. If a potential being as such is naturally change-
able, since what is possible to be, is possible to not-be, it
follows also that the divine will is changeable.
Further. If it is natural for God to will something con-
cerning His effects, it is necessary. Now nothing can be
in Him that is not natural to Him, for nothing accidental
or violent can be in Him, as we have proved above. 2
Again. If that which is indifferent to either of two alter-
natives does not tend to the one rather than to the other
unless it be determined by something else, it follows that
either God wills none of the things to which He is in-
different — the contrary of which has been proved above 3 —
or else He is determined to one alternative by something
else. And thus something will be before Him that deter-
mines Him to one thing.
Now none of these consequences follow of necessity.
For indifference may befit a power in two ways : first, on
the part of the power itself ; secondly, in respect of that to
which it is said to be indifferent. On the part of the power
itself, when it has not yet reached its perfection whereby it
is determined to one thing. Wherefore this argues imper-
fection in the power, and potentiality is proved to be in it :
as may be seen in the intellect of one who doubts, for it has
not yet acquired the principles by which it may be deter-
mined to one alternative. On the part of the thing to which
it is said to be indifferent, a power is found to be indifferent
to either alternative, when the perfect operation of the
power depends on neither, and yet either is possible : even
as an art which can use various instruments that are
equally adapted to perfect its work. Now this does not
argue imperfection in the power, rather does it pertain to
its perfection : in as much as it transcends both alternatives,
1 Ch. xvi. 2 Ch. xix. 3 Ch. lxxv.
178 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
and for this reason is determined to neither, being indif-
ferent to both. It is thus with God's will in regard to
other things than Himself : since its end depends on none
of these other things, whereas it is most perfectly united to
its end. Therefore it does not follow that there must be
potentiality in the divine will.
Likewise neither does it follow that there is changeable-
ness. For if there is no potentiality in God's will, the
reason why, in His effects, He does not of necessity give
preference to the one alternative, is not because He is con-
sidered to be indifferent to either alternative, so as to be at
first potentially willing either, and afterwards willing
actually (whereas He is always actually willing whatsoever
He wills, with regard not only to Himself but also His
effects); but it is because the thing willed is not necessarily
related to the divine goodness, which is the proper object
of the divine will ; in the same way in which we say that an
enunciation is not necessary but possible where the predi-
cate is not necessarily related to the subject. Hence when
we say : God wills this effect, this statement is clearly not
necessary but possible, in the same way as a thing is said
to be possible, not in reference to a potentiality, but because
it is neither necessary nor impossible for it to be, as the
Philosopher teaches (6 Metaph.). 1 Thus the statement that
a triangle has two equal sides is possible, yet not in refer-
ence to a potentiality, since in mathematics there is neither
potentiality nor movement. Therefore the exclusion of the
aforesaid necessity does not remove the unchangeableness
of the divine will, to which Holy Writ bears witness
(i Kings xv. 29) : The Triumpher in Israel . . . will not
be moved to repentance.
Yet although God's will is not determined to its effects,
it does not follow that He wills none of them, or that He is
determined by something outside to will them. For, since
the apprehended good determines the will as the latter's
proper object, while God's intellect is not outside His will,
because each is His essence ; if God's will is determined by
1 D. 4. xii. 7 scqq.
CHAPTER LXXXIII 179
the will of His intellect to will something, the determination
of the divine will is not effected by something outside. For
the divine intellect apprehends not only the divine being
which is His goodness, but also other goods, as we proved
above. 1 And it apprehends these as likenesses of the divine
goodness, not as principles thereof. Wherefore the divine
will tends to them as according with His goodness, not as
necessary thereto. It is the same with our will, because
when it tends to something as simply necessary to an end,
it is moved by a kind of necessity towards it : whereas when
it tends to something merely on account of some fitting-
ness, it does not tend thereto of necessity. Therefore
neither does the divine will tend necessarily to its effects.
Nor does it follow on account of what has been said,
that we must admit the existence in God of something
not natural. For His will, by the one and same act, wills
Himself and other things. Now His relation to Himself
is necessary and natural ; whereas His relation to other
things is by way of a kind of fittingness, not necessary and
natural, nor violent and unnatural, but voluntary: since
what is voluntary, must needs be neither natural nor
THAT GOD WILLS SOMETHING OTHER THAN HIMSELF BY A
NECESSITY OF SUPPOSITION
We may conclude from the foregoing that, although God
wills none of His effects of absolute necessity, He wills
something necessarily by supposition.
For it has been proved 2 that the divine will is unchange-
able. Now that which is once in an unchangeable thing
cannot afterwards not be therein : since we say that a thing
is changed when its condition is different now to what it
was before. Therefore, if God's will is unchangeable,
supposing that He will something, it is necessary by sup-
position that He will it.
1 Ch. xlix. 2 Ch. lxxxii.
i8o THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Again. Everything eternal is necessary. Now that God
will some particular effect to exist is eternal : for His
willing, like His being, is measured by eternity. 1 There-
fore it is necessary. Not however if we consider it abso-
lutely : because God's will has not a necessary relation to
this particular thing willed. Therefore it is necessary by
Further. Whatsoever God could do, He can do, for His
power is not diminished, as neither is His essence. But He
cannot now not will what He is supposed to have willed,
since His will is unchangeable. Therefore He never could
not will whatever He has willed. Therefore it is necessary
by supposition that He willed, as also that He will, what-
ever He willed : neither however is necessary absolutely,
but possible in the aforesaid manner. 3
Moreover. Whosoever wills a thing, necessarily wills
those things which are necessarily requisite to that thing,
unless there be a defect on his part, either through ignor-
ance, or because he is led astray from the right choice of
means to the end in view, by some passion. But these
things cannot be said of God. Wherefore if God, in
willing Himself, wills something other than Himself, it is
necessary for Him to will all that is necessarily required for
what is willed by Him : even so is it necessary for God to
will that there be a rational soul, supposing that He wills a
man to be.
THAT GOD'S WILL IS NOT OF THINGS IMPOSSIBLE IN
Hence it is clear that God's will cannot be of things that
are impossible in themselves.
For the like are those which imply a contradiction in
themselves : for instance that a man be an ass, which
implies that rational is irrational. Now that which is
1 Ch. bcxiii. 3 Ch. Ixxxii. 3 Ch. Ixxxii.
CHAPTER LXXXIV 181
incompatible with a thing excludes some of those things
which are required for that thing : for instance, to be an ass
excludes man's reason. If, then, He wills necessarily the
things that are required for those He is supposed to will,
it is impossible that He will those that are incompatible with
them. Hence it is impossible for Him to will things that
are simply impossible.
Again. As was proved above, 1 God, by willing His own
being, which is His own goodness, wills all things as bear-
ing a likeness to Him. Now in so far as a thing is incom-
patible with the notion of being as such, it cannot retain
a likeness to the first, that is, the divine being, which is the
source of being. Wherefore God cannot will that which is
incompatible with the notion of being as such. Now just
as irrationality is incompatible with the notion of man as
such, so is it incompatible with the notion of being as such,
that anything be at the same time a being and a non-being.
Hence God cannot will affirmation and negation to be true
at the same time. Yet this is implied in everything which
is in itself impossible, that it is incompatible with itself, in
as much as it implies a contradiction. Therefore God's will
cannot be of things impossible in themselves.
Moreover. The will is only of some understood good.
Wherefore that which is not an object of the intellect,
cannot be an object of the will. Now things in themselves
impossible are not an object of understanding, since they
imply a contradiction, except perhaps through an error of
one who understands not the property of things : and this
cannot be said of God. Therefore things in themselves
impossible cannot be an object of God's will.
Further. According as a thing is related to being, so is
it related to goodness. But impossibles are things that
cannot be. Therefore they cannot be good. Neither
therefore can they be willed by God, Who wills only the
things that are or can be good.
1 Ch. lxxv.
182 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT THE DIVINE WILL DOES NOT REMOVE CONTINGENCY
FROM THINGS, NOR IMPOSE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY ON THEM
From what has been said we may gather that the divine
will does not exclude contingency, nor impose absolute
necessity on things.
For God wills all that is requisite for the thing which He
wills, as already stated. 1 Now it is befitting some things,
according to the mode of their nature, that they be con-
tingent and not necessary. Therefore He wills certain
things to be contingent. Now the efficacy of the divine
will requires not only that what God wills to be should be,
but also that it should be in the mode that God wills it to
be : for even in natural agents, when the active force is
strong, it likens its effects to itself not only in its species,
but also in its accidents, which are a kind of mode of that
thing. Therefore the efficacy of the divine will does not
Moreover. God wills the good of the universe the more
especially than any particular good, according as the like-
ness of His goodness is more completely found therein. 2
Now the completeness of the universe demands that some
things should be contingent, else not all the degrees of
being would be contained in the universe. Therefore God
wills some things to be contingent.
Again. The good of the universe consists in a certain
order, as stated in n Metaph. 3 Now the order of the
universe requires that certain causes be changeable; since
bodies belong to the perfection of the universe and they
move not unless they be moved. Now from a changeable
cause contingent effects follow : since the effect cannot have
more stable being than the cause. Hence we find that,
though the remote cause be necessary, yet if the proximate
cause be contingent, the effect is contingent. This is
evidenced by what happens with the lower bodies : for they
1 Ch. lxxxiii. 2 Cf. ch. lxxv. a i. i.
CHAPTER LXXXVI 183
are contingent on account of the contingency of their
proximate causes, although their remote causes, which are
the heavenly movements, are necessary. Therefore God
wills some things to happen contingently.
Further. Necessity by supposition in a cause cannot
argue absolute necessity in its effect. Now God wills some-
thing in the creature not of absolute necessity, but only of
necessity by supposition, as we have proved. 1 Wherefore
from the divine will we cannot argue absolute necessity in
creatures. Now this alone excludes contingency, since
even contingents that are indifferent to either of two alterna-
tives become necessary by supposition : thus it is necessary
that Socrates be moved if he runs. Therefore the divine
will does not exclude contingency from the things willed.
Hence it does not follow, if God wills a thing, that it
happens of necessity, but that this conditional proposition
is true and necessary, // God wills a thing, it will be: and
yet the consequence is not necessary.
THAT A REASON OF THE DIVINE WILL CAN BE ASSIGNED
We can gather from what has been said that it is possible to
assign a reason of the divine will.
For the end is the reason of willing the means. Now
God wills His goodness as an end, and He wills all else as
means to that end. 2 Therefore His goodness is the reason
why He wills other things which are different from Him.
Again. The particular good is directed to the good of
the whole as its end, as the imperfect to the perfect. Now
things are the object of the divine will according to their
place in the order of good. 3 Hence it follows that the good
of the universe is the reason why God wills each particular
good in the universe.
Again. As we have shown above, 4 supposing God to
will a certain thing, it follows of necessity that He wills
1 Ch. lxxxi. seqq. 2 Chs. lxxiv., lxxv.
3 Ch. lxxviii. 4 Ch. lxxxiii.
1 84 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
whatever is required for that thing. Now that which
imposes necessity on something else, is the reason why this
other thing is. Therefore the reason why God wills that
which is requisite for a thing, is that the thing for which it
is requisite may be.
Accordingly we may proceed thus in assigning the reason
of the divine will. God wills man to have reason that
man may be ; He wills man to be that the universe may be
complete ; and He wills the good of the universe because it
is befitting His goodness.
Yet these three reasons do not indicate the same relation-
ship. For the divine goodness neither depends on the
perfection of the universe nor gains anything from it.
While though the perfection of the universe depends
necessarily on certain particular goods, which are the
essential parts of the universe, it depends on others not
of necessity, although a certain goodness or beauty accrues
to the universe through them, for instance through such
things as are merely for the protection or beauty of the other
parts. And the particular good depends necessarily on
those things which are absolutely required for it : although
this also has certain things which are for its better being.
Wherefore sometimes the reason of the divine will indi-
cates only fittingness, sometimes utility, and sometimes
necessity by supposition ; but absolutely necessity only
when God wills Himself.
THAT NOTHING CAN BE THE CAUSE OF THE DIVINE WILL
Now although it is possible to assign some reason of the
divine will, it does not follow that anything is the cause of
For the end is to the will the cause of willing. Now the
end of God's will is His goodness. Therefore this is the
cause of God's willing, and is the selfsame as the act of His
1 Ch. Ixxiii.
CHAPTER LXXXVIII 185
But none of Che other things willed by God is the cause
of His willing : although one of them is the cause of another
being directed to the divine goodness. And it is in this
sense that God wills one of them on account of another.
Nevertheless it is clear that there is no need to allow of
any discursion in the divine will. Because where there is
one act, we cannot find discursion, as we have proved
above 1 with regard to the intellect. Now God by one act
wills His goodness and all else, 2 since His action is His
By what we have said we refute the error of some who say
that all things proceed from God according to His simple
will, so that no reason is to be given for anything except
that God wills it. 3
Moreover. This is contrary to Divine Scripture which
declares that God made all things in accordance with the
order of His Wisdom, as expressed in the psalm : 4 Thou
hast made all things in wisdom. Again it is written
(Ecclus. i. 10) that God poured out His wisdom upon all
THAT IN GOD THERE IS FREE-WILL
It is possible to conclude from the foregoing that free-will
is to be found in God.
For free-will is applied to those things that one wills not
of necessity but of one's own accord : wherefore in us there
is free-will in regard to our wishing to run or walk. Now
God wills not of necessity things other than Himself, as we
have shown above. 5 Therefore it is fitting that God should
Again. The divine will, in those things to which it is
not determined by its nature, is inclined in a way by the
intellect, as we have shown above. 6 Now man to the
1 Ch. lvii. 2 Ch. lxxvi. 3 Cf. Bk. III., ch. xcvii.
4 Ps. ciii. 24. 5 Ch. lxxxi. 6 Ch. Jxxxii.
1 86 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
exclusion of other animals is said to have free-will, because
he is inclined to will by the judgment of his reason, and
not by natural impulse as brute animals are. Therefore
there is free-will in God.
Again. According to the Philosopher (3 Ethic. 1 ) will is
of the end, but choice is of the means to the end. Where-
fore since God wills Himself as end, and other things as
means to the end, 2 it follows that in regard to Himself He
has will only, but in respect of other things choice. Now
Choice is always an act of free-will. Therefore free-will is
Further. Through having free-will man is said to be
master of his own actions. Now this is most befitting the
first agent, whose action depends on no other. Therefore
God has free-will.
This may also be gathered from the very signification of
the word. For the free is that which is its own cause
according to the Philosopher at the beginning of the Meta-
physics ; 3 and to none is this more befitting than to the
first cause which is God. 4
THAT THE PASSIONS OF THE APPETITE ARE NOT IN GOD
From the foregoing we may conclude that the passions of
the appetite are not in God.
For there is no passion in the intellective appetite, but
only in the sensitive, as is proved in 7 Phys. 5 Now no
such appetite can be in God, since He has no knowledge
through senses, as clearly results from what has been said. 6
Therefore it follows that no passion of the appetite is in
Further. Every passion of the appetite is accompanied
by a bodily change, for instance in respect of the contrac-
tion and dilatation of the heart or something of the kind.
1 ii. 9 ; v. i. 2 Ch. lxxxi. 3 ii. 9.
* Ch. xiii. 6 iii. 6 Ch. xliv.
CHAPTER LXXXIX 187
But none of these can possibly happen in God, since He is
not a body nor a power in a body, as we have shown
above. 1 Therefore there is no passion of the appetite in
Again. In every passion of the appetite the patient is
somewhat drawn outside its ordinary, even, or connatural
disposition : a sign of which is that these passions if they
become intense cause an animal's death. But it is impos-
sible for God to be in any way drawn outside His natural
disposition, since He is utterly unchangeable, as was
shown above. 2 It is therefore evident that these passions
cannot be in God.
Moreover. Every emotion that is accompanied by a
passion, has one definite object, according to the mode and
measure of the passion. For a passion has an impulse
to some one thing, even as nature has : and on this account
it needs to be curbed and ruled by reason. Now the divine
will is not in itself determined to one in things created,
except by the ordering of His Wisdom, as was proved
above. 3 Therefore there is no emotional passion in Him.
Again. Every passion is in a subject that is in poten-
tiality. But God is altogether free of potentiality, since
He is pure act. 4 Therefore He is agent only, and in no
way can passion take place in Him.
Accordingly all passion by reason of its genus is absent
Some passions, however, are absent from God not only
by reason of their genus, but also on account of their
species. For every passion takes its species from its object.
Wherefore a passion whose object is wholly unbefitting
God is absent from God on account of its proper species.
Such a passion is sorrow or pain : for its object is an
actually inherent evil, just as the object of joy is a good
present and possessed. Sorrow, therefore, and pain by
their very nature cannot be in God.
Again. The formality of a passion's object is taken not
only from good or evil, but also from the fact that a person
1 Ch. xx. 2 Ch. xiii. 3 Ch. lxxxii. * Ch. xvi.
1 88 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
is referred in some mode to the one or the other : for thus
it is that hope and joy differ. Wherefore if the mode in
which a person is referred to the object — that mode being
essential to the passion — is not becoming to God, neither
can the passion itself be becoming to God, and this by
reason of its proper species. Now although hope has a
good for its object, this is a good not already acquired, but
to be yet obtained. And this cannot be competent to God,
on account of His perfection, which is so great that nothing
can be added to it. 1 Hope therefore cannot be in God,
even by reason of its species : nor again desire of anything
Moreover. Just as the divine perfection excludes from
God the potentiality of acquiring any additional good, so
too and much more it excludes the potentiality to evil. 2
Now fear regards evil that may be imminent, even as hope
regards a good to be acquired. Wherefore fear by reason
of its species is absent from God on two counts : both
because it is befitting only one that is in potentiality, and
because its object is an evil that can become present.
Again. Repentance denotes a change in the appetite.
Wherefore the idea of repentance is inapplicable to God, 3
both because it is a kind of sorrow, and because it implies
a change of will.
Further. Without error in the cognitive power, it is
impossible for that which is good to be apprehended as
evil. Nor does it happen that the evil of one can be the
good of another, save in particular goods, wherein the
corruption of one is the generation of another: 41 while the
universal good is nowise impaired by any particular good,
but is reflected by each one. Now God is the universal
good, and by partaking of His likeness all things are said
to be good. 5 Hence no one's evil can be to Him a good.
Nor is it possible for Him to apprehend as evil that which
is good simply, and is not evil to Him : because His know-
ledge is without error, as we have proved above. 6 Hence
1 Ch. xxviii. 2 Chs. xxviii., xxxix. 3 Cf. ch. xiii.
* 3 Phys. viii. i. 5 Ch. xxix. a Ch. lxi.
CHAPTER XC 189
envy cannot possibly be in God, even according to the
nature of its species ; not only because envy is a kind of
sorrow, but because it grieves for the good of another, and
thus looks upon another's good as its own evil.
Again. To grieve for a good is like desiring an evil :
for the former results from a good being deemed an evil,
while the latter results from an evil being deemed a good.
Now anger is the desire of another's evil in revenge.
Therefore anger is far removed from God according to its
specific nature ; not only because it is an effect of sorrow,
but also because it is a desire for revenge on account of
sorrow arising from a harm inflicted.
Also, whatsoever passions are species or effects of the
above, are equally removed from God.
THAT IN GOD ARE DELIGHT AND JOY, NOR ARE THEY INCOM-
PATIBLE WITH THE DIVINE PERFECTION
There are, however, certain passions which, though un-
becoming to God as passions, nevertheless contain nothing
in their specific nature incompatible with the divine
Among these are joy and delight. For joy has for its
object a present good. Wherefore neither by reason of its
object which is a good, nor by reason of the way in which
it is referred to that object, which is actually possessed, is
joy, according to its specific nature, incompatible with the
Hence it is evident that joy or delight, properly speak-
ing, is in God. Because just as good and evil apprehended
are the object of the sensible appetite, so are they the object
of the intellective appetite. For it belongs to both to
ensue good and to avoid evil, whether so in truth, or in
the estimation : except that the object of the intellective
appetite is more universal than that of the sensitive appe-
igo THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
tite, since the intellective appetite regards good or evil
simply, whereas the sensitive appetite regards good or evil
according to the senses; even as the object of the intellect
is more universal than that of the senses. Now the opera-
tions of the appetite take their species from their objects.
Accordingly we find in the intellective appetite, which is
the will, operations specifically similar to those of the
sensitive appetite, differing in this, that in the sensitive
appetite they are passions, on account of its connection
with a bodily organ, whereas in the intellective appetite
they are pure operations. For just as by the passion of
fear which, in the sensitive appetite, one shuns a future evil,
so, without passion, the intellective appetite has a like
operation. Since then joy and delight are not inapplicable
to God according to their species, but only as passions,
while they are in the will according to their species, but
not as passions, it follows that they are not absent from the
Again. Joy and delight are a kind of repose of the will
in the object of its willing. Now God is supremely at rest
in Himself, Who is the principal object of His will, as
finding all sufficiency in Himself. 1 Therefore by His will
He rejoices and delights supremely in Himself.
Further. Delight is a perfection of operation, as the
Philosopher teaches (10 Ethic. 2 ), for it perfects operation
as beauty perfects youth. Now God has a most perfect
operation in understanding, as shown above. 3 Therefore
if our act of understanding is delightful on account of its
perfection, God's act of understanding will be most
delightful to Him.
Moreover. Everything naturally rejoices in its like 4 as
being congenial to it ; except accidentally, in so far as this
thing is detrimental to it, thus potters quarrel among them-
selves, 6 because one hinders the profit of another. Now
every good is a likeness of the divine goodness, as stated
above : 6 nor is any good prejudicial to it. Therefore God
1 Ch. lxxiv. a iv. 6, 8. 3 Ch. xlv.
« Sum. Th. I.-II., Q. xxxii., A. 7. 8 2 Rhet. x. 6. « Ch. xl.
CHAPTER XCI 191
rejoices in every good. Therefore joy and delight are in
Him properly speaking. Yet joy and delight differ in
aspect. For delight is caused by a good conjoined in
reality, while joy does not require this conjunction, because
the mere repose of the will in the thing willed suffices for
the notion of joy. Hence delight is only in a conjoined
good, if it be taken in its proper sense : whereas joy is in
a separate good. Wherefore it is evident that, properly
speaking, God delights in Himself, but rejoices in Himself
in other things.
THAT IN GOD THERE IS LOVE
In like manner it follows that love is in God 1 as an act of
For it belongs properly to the nature of love that the
lover wills the good of the beloved. Now God wills His
own and others' good, as stated above. 2 Accordingly
then God loves both Himself and other things.
Again. True love requires one to will another's good as
one's own. For a thing whose good one wills merely as
conducive to another's good, is loved accidentally : thus he
who wills wine to be preserved that he may drink it, or who
loves a man that he may be useful or pleasing to him, loves
the wine or the man accidentally, but himself properly
speaking. Now God loves each thing's good as its own,
since He wills each thing to be in as much as it is good in
itself : although He directs one to the profit of another.
God therefore truly loves both Himself and other things.
Moreover. Since everything naturally wills or desires
its own good in its own way, if the nature of love is that
the lover will or desire the good of the beloved, it follows
that the lover is referred to the beloved as to a thing that
is in a way one with him. Wherefore it appears that the
proper notion of love consists in the affection of one tend-
1 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xx. 2 Chs. lxxiv., lxxv.
i 9 2 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
ing to another as one with himself in some way : for which
reason Dionysius describes love as a unitive force. 1 Hence
the greater the thing that makes the lover one with the
beloved, the more intense is the love : for we love those
more who are united to us by the origin of birth, or by
frequent companionship, than those who are merely united
to us by the bond of human nature. Again, the more
the cause of union is deeply seated in the lover, the
stronger the love : wherefore sometimes a love that
is caused by a passion becomes more intense than a
love arising from natural origin or from some habit,
although it is more liable to be transitory. Now the cause
of all things being united to God, namely His goodness,
which all things reflect, is exceeding great and deeply
seated in God, since Himself is His own goodness. 2
Wherefore in God not only is there true love, but also
most perfect and most abiding love.
Again. On the part of its object, love does not denote
anything inconsistent with God : since that object is a good.
Nor again, as regards the way in which it is referred to its
object, since a thing when possessed is loved not less, but
more, because a good is more closely united to us when
possessed. Wherefore in natural things movement towards
an end is more intense if the end be near (although the
contrary happens accidentally sometimes, for instance when
we discover something repugnant to love in the beloved, for
then possession diminishes love). Accordingly love is
not inconsistent with the divine perfection, as regards its
specific nature. Therefore it is in God.
Further. It belongs to love to seek union as Dionysius
says. 3 For since, on account of likeness or becomingness
between lover and beloved, the affection of the lover is
somehow united to the beloved, the appetite tends to the
completion of the union, namely that the union which was
begun in the affections be completed in actions. Where-
fore it belongs to friends to rejoice in mutual companion-
ship, living together, and common pursuits. 4 Now God
1 Div. Norn. iv. 2 Ch. xixviii. s L.c. * Q Ethic, xii.
CHARTER XCI 193
moves all other things to union : for in as much as He gives
them being and other perfections, He unites them to Him-
self as far as possible. Therefore God loves both Himself
and other things.
Again. Love is the source of all the emotions. 1 For
joy and desire are only of a good that is loved; fear and
sorrow are only of evil that is contrary to the beloved good ;
and from these all the other emotions arise. Now joy and
delight are in God, as we have shown above. 2 Therefore
in God there is love.
Someone, however, might think that God loves not one
thing more than another. For if intenseness and remiss-
ness are proper to a changeable nature, they cannot apply
to God, from whom all change is far removed. 3
Again. None of the other things that are said of God
by way of operation, are applied to Him more or less :
since He knows not one thing more than another, nor
rejoices more in this than in that.
Accordingly it must be observed that while other opera-
tions of the soul are about one object only, love alone
appears to be directed to a twofold object. For if we under-
stand or rejoice, it follows that we are referred somehow
to some object : whereas love wills something to someone,
since we are said to love that to which we will some good,
in the way aforesaid. Hence when we want a thing, we
are said simply and properly to desire it, and not to love it,
but rather to love ourselves for whom we want it : and in
consequence we are said to love it accidentally and im-
properly. Accordingly other operations are intense or
remiss in proportion to the energy alone of the action. But
this cannot apply to God : because energy of action is
measured by the force from which it proceeds, and every
divine action is of one and the same force. On the other
hand love may be intense or remiss in two ways. In one
way, as regards the good that we will someone ; according
to which we are said to love that person more for whom we
1 Sum. Th. I.-II., Q. xxv., A. 2. 2 Ch. xc.
3 Ch. xiii.
194 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
will a greater good. In another way, as regards the energy
of the action, according to which we are said to love that
person more, for whom, although we will not a greater good,
nevertheless we will an equal good with greater fervour
and efficacy. In the first way, accordingly, nothing for-
bids us to say that God loves one thing more than another,
according as He wills for it a greater good. But in the
second way this cannot be said, for the same reason as we
have stated in the case of other operations.
It is therefore clear from what has been said, 1 that none
of our emotions, properly speaking, can be in God, except
joy and love : and yet even these are not in Him as they
are in us, by way of passion.
That joy or delight is in God is confirmed by the authority
of Scripture. For it is said in the psalm : 2 At Thy right
hand are delights even to the end: divine Wisdom, which
is God, as we have proved, 3 says (Prov. ix.) 4 : I was
delighted every day, playing before Him, and (Luke xv. 10) :
There is joy in heaven 5 upon one sinner doing penance.
Also the Philosopher says (7 Ethic.) 6 that God rejoices
with one simple delight.
Scripture also makes mention of God's love (Deut.
xxxiii. 3): He hath loved the people; (Jerem. xxxi. 3):
/ have loved thee with an everlasting love ; (Jo. xvi. 27) :
For the Father Himself loveth you. Certain philosophers 7
also taught that God's love is the principle of things : in
agreement with which is the saying of Dionysius (Dry.
Nom. iv.) that God's love did not allow Him to be
It must, however, be observed that even other emotions
which by their specific nature are inapplicable to God, are
applied to God in Holy Writ, not indeed properly, as we
have shown, 8 but metaphorically, on account of a likeness
either of effects, or of some preceding emotion.
1 Here and chs. lxxxix., xc. 2 Ps. xv. n.
3 Chs. xlv., Ix. 4 Vulg., viii. 30.
6 Vulg., There shall be joy before the angels of God.
6 xiv. 8. 1 Cf. 1 Melaph. iv. i.
8 Ch. lxxxix. ; cf. ch. xxx.
CHAPTER XCI 195
I say of effects, because sometimes His will, by the order-
ing of His ^Wisdom, tends to an effect to which a person is
inclined through a defective passion : thus a judge punishes
out of justice, as an angry man out of anger. Accordingly
sometimes God is said to be angry, in as much as by the
ordering of His Wisdom He wills to punish someone,
according to the saying of the psalm i 1 When His wrath
shall be kindled in a short time. He is said to be merciful,
in as much as out of His good-will He removes man's
unhappiness, 2 even as we do the same through the passion
of mercy. Hence the psalm 3 says : The Lord is compas-
sionate and merciful, long-suffering and plenteous in
mercy. Sometimes also He is said to repent, in as much as
in accordance with the eternal and unchangeable decree of
His providence, He makes what He destroyed before, or
destroys what previously He made : even as those who are
moved by repentance are wont to do. Hence (Gen. vi. 7) :
It repenteth Me that I have made man. 4 " That this cannot
be taken in the proper sense is clear from the words of
1 Kings xv. 29 : The Triumpher in Israel will not spare
and will not be moved to repentance.
I also say on account of a likeness to a preceding emotion.
For love and joy, which are in God properly, are the prin-
ciples of all the emotions : love by way of moving prin-
ciple ; joy by way of end : wherefore even an angry man
rejoices while punishing, as having obtained his end.
Hence God is said to grieve, in as much as certain things
occur contrary to those He loves and approves : even as we
grieve for what has happened against our will. This is in-
stanced (Isa. lix. 15, 16) : God 5 saw, and it appeared evil in
His eyes, because there is no judgment. And He saw that
there is not a man, and He stood astonished, because there
is none to oppose Himself.
By what has been said we can refute the error of certain
1 Ps. ii. 13.
2 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xxi., A. 3 ; I.-II., Q. xxx., A. 1.
3 Ps. cii .8. « Vulg., them.
6 Vulg., The Lord.
ig6 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
Jews who ascribed to God anger, sorrow, repentance, and
all such passions in their proper sense, failing to discrimi-
nate between the proper and the metaphorical expressions
HOW VIRTUES ARE TO BE ASCRIBED TO GOD
In sequence to what has been said we must show how
virtues are to be ascribed to God. For just as His being is
universally perfect, in some way containing within itself
the perfection of all beings, 1 so must His goodness in some
way comprise the various kinds of goodness of all things. 2
Now virtue is a kind of goodness of the virtuous person,
since in respect thereof he is said to be good, and his work
good. 3 It follows therefore that the divine goodness con-
tains in its own way all virtues.
Wherefore none of them is ascribed as a habit to God, as
it is to us. For it is not befitting God to be good through
something else added to Him, but by His essence : for He
is altogether simple. 4 Nor does He act by anything added
to His essence, since His action is His being, as we have
shown. 5 Therefore His virtue is not a habit, but His
Again. Habit is imperfect act, a mean as it were between"
potentiality and act : wherefore one who has a habit is com-
pared to a person asleep. 6 But in God there is most perfect
act. Hence act in Him is not like a habit, as knowledge,
but like to consider which is an ultimate and perfect act.
Again. Habit perfects a potentiality ; but in God nothing
is potential but only actual. 7 Therefore a habit cannot be
Further. Habit is a kind of accident : and this is utterly
foreign to God, as we have proved above. 8 Neither there-
1 Ch. xxviii.
2 Ch. xl.
3 2 Ethic, vi. 2.
4 Chs. xviii., xxxviii.
6 Chs. xlv., lxxiii.
6 2 De Anima i. 5.
7 Ch. xvi.
8 Ch. xxiii.
CHAPTER XCII 197
fore is virtue ascribed to God as a habit, but only as His
Now since it is by human virtues that human life is regu-
lated, and since human life is twofold, contemplative and
active, those virtues which belong to the active life, as
perfecting it, cannot be becoming to God.
For the active life of man consists in the use of bodily
goods : wherefore those virtues regulate the active life, by
which we use these goods aright. But these goods cannot
be befitting God. Therefore neither can these virtues, in
so far as they regulate this life.
Again. The like virtues perfect man's conduct in his
civil life, wherefore they do not seem very applicable to
those who have nothing to do with the civil life. Much less
therefore can they be applied to God, whose conduct and
life are far removed from the manner of human life.
Moreover. Some of the virtues that are concerned with
the active life regulate us in regard to the passions. These
we cannot ascribe to God. For those virtues which are
concerned with the passions take their species from those
very passions as from their proper objects : wherefore tem-
perance differs from fortitude because the former is about
desires, while the latter is about fear and daring. But in
God there are no passions, as we have proved. 1 Neither
therefore can these virtues be in God.
Again. These same virtues are not in the intellective
part of the soul, but in the sensitive part, wherein alone can
the passions be, as is proved in 7 Phys. 2 But there is no
sensitive faculty in God, but only intellect. 3 It follows,
therefore, that these virtues cannot be in God, even accord-
ing to their proper signification.
Some of the passions about which these virtues are con-
cerned result from an inclination of the appetite to some
bodily good that is pleasant to the senses, for instance,
meat, drink, and sexual matters, and in respect of the desires
for these things there are sobriety, cKastity, and speaking in
a general way, temperance and continency. Wherefore,
1 Ch. lxxxix. 2 iii. 3 Chs. xx., xxvii.
ig8 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
since bodily pleasures are utterly removed from God, the
aforesaid virtues neither apply to God properly, since they
are about the passions, nor even are they applied to God
metaphorically in the Scriptures, because no likeness to
them is to be found in God, as regards a likeness in their
And there are some passions resulting from an inclina-
tion of the appetite to a spiritual good, such as honour,
dominion, victory, revenge, and so forth ; and about our
hopes, darings, and any acts whatsoever of the appetite in
respect of these things, there are fortitude, magnanimity,
meekness, and other like virtues. These cannot be in God
properly, because they are about the passions ; but they
are applied metaphorically to God in Scripture, on account
of a likeness of effect : for instance (i Kings ii. 2) : There is
none strong like our God; and (Mich, vi.) : 2 Seek the meek,
seek the good.
THAT IN GOD THERE ARE THE MORAL VIRTUES WHICH
ARE ABOUT ACTIONS
Now there are some virtues which regulate man's active
life, and are concerned not with passions but with actions,
such as truth, justice, liberality, magnificence, prudence,
Now since virtue derives its species from its object or
matter, while the actions that are the matter or object of
these virtues are not inconsistent with the divine perfection ;
neither is there in these virtues according to their proper
species, any thing for which they should be excluded from
the divine perfection.
Again. These virtues are perfections of the will and
intellect, which are principles of operation without passion.
1 Cf. ch. xci.
2 Sophon., ii. 3 : Seek the just, seek the meek.
Now in God there are will and intellect wherein there is no
lack of perfection. 1 Therefore these virtues cannot be
lacking in God.
Moreover. The proper reason about all things that take
their being from God exists in the divine intellect, as we
have proved above. 2 Now the reason in the craftsman's
mind about the thing to be made, is art : wherefore the
Philosopher says (6 Ethic. 3 ) that art is right reason about
things to be made. Therefore art is properly in God : and
for this reason it is said (Wis. vii. 21) : Wisdom, the
'Artificer* of all things, taught me.
Again. God's will, in things other than Himself, is deter-
mined to one particular thing by His knowledge, as was
shown above. 5 Now knowledge, directing the will to opera-
tion, is prudence, since prudence, according to the Philo-
sopher (6 Ethic. 6 ) is right reason about things to be done.
Therefore prudence is in God : and this is what is said
(Job xxvi. 7 ) : With Him is prudence and strength.
Again. It was shown above 8 that through willing a
particular thing, God wills whatever is required for that
thing. Now that which is requisite for a perfection of a
thing is due to it. Therefore in God there is justice, which
consists in rendering to each one what is his* Wherefore
it is said in the psalm : 10 The Lord is just and hath loved
Moreover. As shown above, 11 the last end, for the sake of
which God wills all things, nowise depends on the things
directed to the end, neither as to its being nor as to any
perfection. Wherefore He wills to communicate His
goodness to a thing not that He may gain thereby, but
because the very act of communicating is befitting Him as
the source of goodness. Now to give not for a gain ex-
pected from the giving, but through goodness and becom-
ingness, is an act of liberality, as the Philosopher teaches
1 Chs. xlv., lxxiii. 2 Ch. liv.
4 Douay, worker. 6 Ch. lxxxii.
7 Cf. xii. 13 ; xxvi. 2, 3. 8 Ch. lxxxiii.
9 Digest. I. 1., Dejustit. et jure x.
10 Ps. x. 8. " Ch. lxxxi.
iv. ; v. 4.
200 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
(4 Ethic. 1 ). Therefore God is most liberal, and as Avicenna
says, 2 He alone can properly be called liberal, since every
other agent, except God, gains by his action some good
which is the end in view. Scripture declares this His
liberality when it says in the psalm : 3 When Thou openest
Thy hand they shall all be filled with good; and (James i. 5) :
Who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not.
Again. All that receive being from God must needs
bear His likeness, in as much as they are, and are good,
and have their proper types in the divine intellect, as we
have shown above. 4 Now it belongs to the virtue of truth
according to the Philosopher (4 Ethic.) 5 that a man by his
words and deeds show himself such as he is. Therefore in
God is the virtue of truth. Hence it is said (Rom. iii. 4) :
Now God is true, and in the psalm : 6 All Thy ways are
But whatever virtues are directed to certain actions of
subjects in reference to superiors, are inapplicable to God :
for instance, obedience, religion, and the like which are due
to a superior.
Again, the aforesaid virtues cannot be ascribed to God
in respect of any of their acts that may be imperfect. Thus
prudence as to its act of taking good counsel is not befitting
God. For since counsel is an inquiry (6 Ethic. 7 ), whereas
the divine knowledge is not inquisitive, as was proved
above, 8 it cannot become it to take counsel. Wherefore
we read (Job xxvi. 3) : To whom hast Thou given counsel?
Perhaps to him that hath no wisdom? and (Isa. xl. 14) :
With whom hath He consulted, and who hatK instructed
Him? On the other hand, as regards the act of judging of
things counselled and the choice of those approved, nothing
hinders prudence being ascribed to God. However, counsel
is sometimes ascribed to God, either by reason of a likeness
in the point of secrecy, for counsels are taken in secret ;
wherefore the secrets of the divine wisdom are called coun-
1 i. 12. 2 Metaph. tr. vi. 5 ; ix. 4. 8 Ps. ciii. 28.
* * Chs. xl., liv. 6 vii. 4, 7. • Ps. cxviii. 151.
7 ix. 1. 8 Ch. lvii.
CHAPTER XCIII 201
sels metaphorically, for instance Isa. xxv. i, according to
another version :* May Thy counsel of old be verified; or
in the point of satisfying those who seek counsel of Him,
for it belongs to one who understands even without
discursion, to instruct inquirers.
Likewise justice as to its act of commutation cannot be
ascribed to God : since He receives naught from any one.
Hence we read (Rom. xi. 35): Who hath first given to
Him, and recompense shall be made him? and (Job. xli. 2) :
Who hath given Me before that I should repay him?
However, we are said metaphorically to give certain things
to God, in as much as God accepts our gifts. Hence it is
befitting Him to have not commutative, but only distribu-
tive, justice. Wherefore Dionysius says (Div. Nom. viii.)
that God is praised for His justice, because He distributes
to all according to their merits : as expressed by those words
of Matt. xxv. 15 : He gave . . . to everyone according to
his proper ability.
It must be noted, however, that the actions about which
the aforesaid virtues are concerned do not by their nature
depend on human affairs, for to judge of what has to be
done, and to give or distribute something, belongs not to
man alone but to every intelligent being. But so far as
they are confined to human concerns, they, to a certain
extent, take their species from them, just as a crooked nose
makes a species of ape. 2 Accordingly the aforesaid
virtues, so far as they regulate man's active life, are directed
to these actions as confined to human affairs and taking
their species from them. In this way they cannot be
ascribed to God. But so far as the aforesaid actions are
understood in a general sense, they can be adapted even to
things divine. For just as man is a dispenser of human
things, such as money or honours, so is God the bestower
of all the goods of the universe. Hence the aforesaid
virtues in God have a more universal range than in man :
for as justice in man relates to the state or the household,
so God's justice extends to the whole universe. Where-
1 Septuagint. 2 1 Phys. iii. 7.
202 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
fore the divine virtues are called exemplar 1 virtues : because
things that are limited and particularized are likenesses of
absolute beings, as the light of a candle in comparison with
the light of the sun. But other virtues which properly are
not applicable to God have no exemplar in the divine
nature, but only in the divine Wisdom, which contains the
proper types of all beings ; 2 as is the case with other
THAT THE CONTEMPLATIVE VIRTUES ARE IN GOD
There can be no doubt that the contemplative virtues are
most becoming to God.
For since wisdom consists in the knowledge of the
highest causes, according to the Philosopher at the begin-
ning of his Metaphysics, 3 and since God knows Himself
principally, nor knows aught save by knowing Himself, as
we have proved, 4 Who is the first cause of all ; it is evident
that wisdom ought to be especially ascribed to Him. Hence
we read (Job ix. 4) : He is wise in heart; and (Ecclus. i. 1) :
All wisdom is from the Lord God and hath been always
with Him. The Philosopher, too, says at the beginning
of his Metaphysics 6 that it is a divine, not a human,
Again. Since science is the knowledge of a thing by its
proper cause, 8 and since He knows the order of all causes
and effects, as we have shown above, 7 it is evident that
science is properly in Him : not that science however which
is caused by reasoning, 8 as our science is caused by a
demonstration. Hence it is written (1 Kings ii. 3): The
Lord is a God of all knowledge.
Further. Since immaterial knowledge of things without
discoursing is understanding; 9 and since God has this kind
of knowledge about all things, as proved above, 10 it follows
1 Cf. Sum. Th. I.-II., Q. lxi., A. 5. 2 Ch. liv. » ii. 7.
4 Ch. xlvii. scqq. 6 Ibid., 9, 10. 8 1 Poster, ii. 1. ' Ch. lxiv. seqq.
s Ch. lvii. • Cf. 6 Ethic, vi. 10 Ch. lvii.
CHAPTER XCV 203
that in Him is understanding. Hence we read (Job xii. 13) :
He hath counsel and understanding .
In God these virtues are the exemplars of ours, as the
perfect of the imperfect.
THAT GOD CANNOT WILL EVIL
From what has been said it can be proved that God cannot
For the virtue of a thing is that by which one produces a
good work. 1 Now every work of God is a work of virtue,
since His virtue is His essence, as we have shown above. 2
Therefore He cannot will evil.
Again. The will never tends towards evil unless there
be an error in the reason, at least as regards the particular
object of choice. For since the object of he will is an
apprehended good, the will cannot tend towards an evil
unless, in some way, it is proposed to it as a good; and
this cannot be without an error. Now there can be no error
in the divine knowledge, as we have shown. 3 Therefore
God's will cannot tend to evil.
Moreover. God is the sovereign good, as was proved
above.* Now the sovereign good does not suffer the com-
pany of evil, as neither does the supremely hot suffer an
admixture of cold. Therefore the divine will cannot be
inclined to evil.
Further. Since good has the aspect of end, evil cannot
be an object of the will except the latter turn away from its
end. But the divine will cannot turn away from its end,
because He cannot will anything except by willing Him-
self, as we have proved. 5 Therefore He cannot will evil.
It is therefore evident that in Him free-will is naturally
established in good.
This is expressed in the words of Deut. xxxii. 4 : God is
faithful and without any iniquity, and Habac. i. 13 : Thy
1 2 Ethic, vi. 2. 2 Ch. xcii. 3 Ch. lxi.
4 Ch. xli. 6 Ch. lxxiv. seqq.
204 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
eyes are . . . pure . . . and Thou canst not look on
Hereby is confuted the error of the Jews who assert in the
Talmud that God sins sometimes and is cleansed from sin ;
and also of the Luciferiani who say that God sinned in
casting out Lucifer.
IE HATRED OF ANY
THAT GOD HATES NOTHING, NOR CAN THE HATRED OF ANY-
THING BE ASCRIBED TO HIM
Hence it appears that hatred of a thing cannot be ascribed
Because as love is related to good, so is hatred to evil : for
we will good to those whom we love ; but evil to those
whom we hate. Therefore if God's will cannot be inclined
to evil, as was proved above, 1 it is impossible for Him to
Again. As we have shown above, 2 God's will tends to
things other than Himself, in as much as, by willing and
loving His being and goodness, He wills it to be poured
forth, as far as possible, by communicating its likeness.
Accordingly that which God wills in things other than
Himself, is that the likeness of His goodness be in them.
Now the goodness of each thing consists in its partaking
of the divine likeness : since every other goodness is
nothing but a likeness of the first goodness. 3 Therefore
God wills good to everything : and consequently He hates
Again. From the first being all others take the origin of
their being. 4 Wherefore if He hates any one of the things
that are, He wills it not to be, because to be is a thing's
good. Hence He wills His action not to be, whereby that
thing is brought into being mediately or immediately; for
it has been proved above, 5 that if God wills a thing, it
follows that He wills whatever is required for that thing.
1 Ch. xcv. 2 Ch. haw. 3 Ch. xl.
4 Ch. xiii. 6 Ch. lxxxiii.
CHARTER XCVI 205
But this is impossible. And this is evident, if things are
brought into being by His will, since in that case the action
whereby things are produced must be voluntary : and like-
wise if He be the cause of things naturally, because just
as His nature pleases Him, so also everything that His
nature requires pleases Him. Therefore God hates not
Further. That which is found naturally in all active
causes, must most of all be found in the first active cause.
Now every active cause loves its effect as such in its own
way, for instance parents love their children, a poet his
poems, a craftsman his handiwork. 1 Much more therefore
God hates nothing, since He is the cause of all.
This agrees with the saying of Wis. xi. 25 : Thou lovest
all the things that are and hatest none of the things which
Thou hast made.
And yet God is said metaphorically to hate certain
things : and this in two ways. First, from the fact that
God in loving things, and willing their good to be, wills
the contrary evil not to be. Wherefore He is said to hate
evils, since we are said to hate that which we will not to be ;
according to Zach. viii. 17, Let none of you imagine evil
in your hearts against his friend; and love not a false oath,
for all these are the things that I hate, saith the Lord. But
such things are not His effects as subsistent things, to
which hatred or love are directed properly speaking.
The other way is due to God willing some greater good
that cannot be without the privation of a lesser good. And
thus He is said to hate, since to do more than this were to
love. For, in this way, for as much as He wills the good
of justice or of the order of the universe, which good is
impossible without the punishment or destruction of some,
He is said to hate those whose punishment or destruction
He wills; according to Mai. i. 3 : J have hated Esau, and
the words of the psalm : 2 Thou hatest all the workers of
iniquity, thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie : the bloody
and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor.
4 Ethic, i. 20 ; 9, vii. 3. 2 Ps. v. 7.
206 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
THAT GOD IS A LIVING BEING
From what has been already proved, it follows of necessity
that God is a living being.
For it has been shown 1 that in God there are intelligence
and will. Now intelligence and will are only in that which
lives. Therefore God is a living being.
Again. Life is ascribed to certain things in as much as
they seem to be set in motion of themselves and not by
another. For which reason, things which seem to be
moved of themselves, the cause of which movement is not
perceived by the unlearned, are described metaphorically
as living : for instance we speak of the living water of a
flowing source, but not of a tank or stagnant pond ; and of
' quick '-silver, which seems to have a kind of movement.
For properly speaking those things alone are themselves in
motion, which move themselves, being composed of mover
and moved, such as animate beings. Wherefore such
things alone are said to live, while all others are moved by
some other thing, either as generating them, or as remov-
ing an obstacle, or as impelling them. And since sensible
operations are accompanied by movement, furthermore
whatever moves itself to its proper operations, although
these be without movement, is said to live : wherefore
intelligence, appetite and sensation are vital actions. Now
God especially works not as moved by another but by Him-
self, since He is the first active cause. 2 Therefore to live
is befitting Him above all.
Again. The divine being contains every perfection of
being, as was shown above. 3 Now life is a kind of perfect
existence ; wherefore living beings are placed above not-
living things in the order of beings. Therefore God's
being is life. Therefore He is a living being.
This is confirmed by the authority of divine Scripture. For
1 Chs. xliv., lxxii. » Ch. xiii. 3 Ch. xxviii.
CHAPTER XCVIII 207
it is said (Deut. xxxii. 40) in the person of the Lord : J will
say : I live for ever, and in the psalm t 1 My heart and my
flesh have rejoiced in the living God.
THAT GOD IS HIS OWN LIFE
From this it further appears that God is His own life.
For life in a living being is the same as to live expressed
in the abstract; just as a running is in reality the same as
to run. Now in living things to live is to be, as the
Philosopher declares (2 De Anima). 2 For since an animal
is said to be living because it has a soul whereby it has
existence, as it were by its proper form, it follows that to
live is nothing but a particular kind of existence resulting
from a particular kind of form. Now God is His own
existence, as proved above. 3 Therefore He is His own
living and His own life.
Again. Intelligence is a kind of life, as the Philosopher
declares (2 De Anima*) : since to live is the act of a living
being. Now God is His own act of intelligence, as we
have proved. 5 Therefore He is His own living and His
Moreover. If God were not His own life, since He is
a living being as shown above, 6 it would follow that He is
living by a participation of life. Now whatever is by
participation is reduced to that which is by its essence.
Wherefore God would be reduced to something preceding
Him whereby He would live. But this is impossible, as
is evident from what has been said. 7
Again. If God is a living being, as we have proved, 8
it follows that life is in Him. Wherefore if He be not His
own life, there will be something in Him that is not Him-
1 Ps. lxxxiii. 3. 2 iv. 4. 3 Ch. xxii.
4 ii. 2. 5 Ch. xlv. 6 Ch. xcvii.
7 Ch. xiii. 8 Ch. xcvii.
208 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
self : and consequently He will be composite. But this
was disproved above. 1 Therefore God is His own life.
This is What is said (Jo. xiv. 6) : / am the life.
THAT GOD'S LIFE IS ETERNAL
It follows from this that God's life is eternal. For nothing
ceases to live except by being severed from life. But
nothing can be severed from itself : for all severance results
from the separation of one thing from another. Therefore
it is impossible that God cease to live, since Himself is His
own life, as we have proved. 2
Again. Whatever sometimes is and sometimes is not,
results from a cause : for nothing brings itself from not-
being to being : since what is not yet, acts not. Now the
divine life has no cause, as neither has the divine existence.
Therefore He is not sometimes living and sometimes not
living, but is ever living. Therefore His life is eternal.
Again. In every operation the operator remains,
although sometimes the operation is transitory by way of
succession : wherefore in movement the thing moved
remains the same identically though not logically. Hence
where action is the agent itself, it follows that nothing
passes by in succession, but that the whole is throughout
the same simultaneously. Now in God to understand and
to live are God Himself, as was proved. 3 Therefore His
life is without succession and is simultaneously whole.*
Therefore it is eternal.
Moreover. God is utterly unchangeable, as we have
proved above. 6 But that which begins or ceases to live, or
is subject to succession in living, is changeable : for the
life of a being begins by generation and ceases by corrup-
tion, and succession results from change of some kind.
Therefore God neither began to be, nor will cease to be,
1 Ch. xviii. a Ch. xcviii. ■ Chs. xlv., xcviii.
« Sum. Th. P. I., Q. x., A. I. 6 Ch. xiii.
CHAPTER C 209
nor is subject to succession in living. Therefore His life is
Wherefore it is said (Deut. xxxii. 40) in the person of the
Lord : / live for ever ; and (1 Jo. v. 1 ) : This is the true God
and life eternal.
THAT GOD IS HAPPY
It remains for us to show from the foregoing that God is
happy. For happiness is the proper good of every intel-
lectual nature. Since then God is intelligent, 2 His proper
good is happiness. Now He is compared to His proper
good, not as that which tends to a good not yet possessed —
for this belongs to a nature that is changeable and in poten-
tiality, 3 but as that which already possesses its proper
good. Wherefore He not only desires happiness, as we
do, but enjoys it. Therefore He is happy.
Moreover. An intellectual nature desires and wills above
all that which is most perfect in it, and this is its happi-
ness : and the most perfect thing in every being is its most
perfect operation : for power and habit are perfected by
operation ; wherefore the Philosopher says that happiness
is a perfect operation* Now the perfection of operation
depends on four things. First, on its genus, namely that
it abide in the operator : and by an operation abiding in
the operator I mean one by which nothing else is done
besides the operation, for instance to see or to hear. For
the like are perfections of those things whose operations
they are, and can be something ultimate, because they are
not directed to something made as their end. On the other
hand, an operation or action from which there follows some-
thing done besides the action itself, is a perfection of the
thing done, not of the doer, and is compared to the doer
as its end. Hence such an operation of the intellectual
1 Verse 20. ■ Ch. xliv.
8 Cf. chs. xiii., xxvi. « 10 Ethic, vii. 1 ; viii. 7.
210 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
nature is not beatitude or happiness. Secondly, on the
principle of operation, that it should be an operation of the
highest power. Hence happiness in us is not by an opera-
tion of the senses, but by an operation of the intellect
perfected by a habit. Thirdly, on the object of the opera-
tion. For this reason ultimate happiness in us consists in
understanding the highest object of our intellect. Fourthly,
on the form of operation, namely that the operation should
be performed perfectly, easily, constantly, and pleasur-
ably. Now such is the operation of God. For He is
intelligent; and His intellect is the sovereign power, nor
needs to be perfected by a habit, since it is perfect in itself,
as we proved above. 1 He also understands Himself, Who
is the highest of intelligible objects, perfectly, without any
difficulty, and pleasurably. Therefore He is happy.
Again. Every desire is set at rest by happiness ; because
once it is possessed nothing remains to be desired, for it
is the last end. Accordingly He must be happy, since He
is perfect in all things that can be desired; wherefore
Boethius says that happiness is a state made perfect by the
assemblage of all good things. 2 Now such is the divine
perfection that it contains every perfection with simplicity,
as shown above. 3 Therefore He is truly happy.
Again. As long as a person lacks that which he needs,
he is not yet happy : for his desire is not yet set at rest.
Whosoever, therefore, is self-sufficient, needing nothing,
is happy. Now it was proved above 4 that God needs not
other things, since His perfection depends on nothing out-
side Him : nor does He will other things for His own sake
as their end, as though He needed them, but merely because
this is befitting His goodness. Therefore He is happy.
Further. It has been proved 6 that God cannot will what
is impossible. Now it is impossible for anything to accrue
to Him that He has not already, since He is nowise in
potentiality, as we have shown. 6 Therefore He cannot will
1 Ch. xlv. 2 De Consol. iii., pros. 2.
3 Chs. xxviii., xxxi. 4 Chs. lxxxi., lxxxii.
* Ch. lxxxiv. « Ch. xvi.
CHAPTER CI 211
to have what He has not. Whatever then He wills He
has. Nor does He will anything ill, as we have proved. 1
Therefore He is happy, according as some assert that a
happy man is one who has whatever he desires, and desires
nothing amiss. 2
Holy Writ also bears witness to His happiness
(i Tim. vi.) : 3 Which in His times He shall show, Who is
blessed and . . . mighty.
THAT GOD IS HIS OWN HAPPINESS
It follows from this that God is His own happiness.
For His happiness is His intellectual operation, as we
have shown : 4 and it was proved above 5 that God's act of
intelligence is His substance. Therefore He is His own
Again. Happiness, since it is the last end, is that which
everyone wills principally, whether he has a natural inclina-
tion for it, or possesses it already. Now it has been proved 6
that God principally wills His essence. Therefore His
essence is His happiness.
Further. Whatever a person wills he directs to his
happiness : for happiness is what is not desired on account
of something else, and is the term of the movement of desire
in one who desires one thing for the sake of another, else
that movement will be indefinite. Since then God wills all
other things for the sake of His goodness Which is His
essence, 7 it follows that He is His own happiness, even as
He is His own essence and His own goodness. 8
Moreover. There cannot be two sovereign goods : for
if either lacked what the other has, neither would be sove-
reign and perfect. Now it has been shown above 9 that God
1 Ch. xcv. 2 Aug., De Trin. xiii. 5.
3 Verse 15. 4 Ch. c. 5 Ch. xlv.
6 Ch. lxxiv. 7 Ch. lxxv. 8 Chs. xxi., xxxviii.
212 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
is the sovereign good. And it will be proved that happi-
ness is the supreme good since it is the last end. Therefore
happiness and God are one and the same. Therefore God
is His own happiness.
THAT GOD'S HAPPINESS IS PERFECT AND SINGULAR, SUR-
PASSING ALL OTHER HAPPINESS
Furthermore, from what has been said we are able to con-
sider the excellence of the divine happiness.
For the nearer a thing is to happiness, the more perfectly
is it happy. Hence, although a person be called happy on
account of his hope of obtaining happiness, his happiness
can nowise be compared to the happiness of one who has
already actually obtained it. Now that which is happiness
itself is nearest of all to happiness : and Chis has been
proved 1 to be true of God. Therefore He is singularly
and perfectly happy.
Again. Since joy is caused by love, as was proved, 3
where there is greater love there is greater joy in possessing
the thing loved. Now, other things being equal, every
being loves itself more than another : a sign of which is,
that the nearer a thing is to one, the more is it naturally
loved. Therefore God rejoices more in His own happiness,
which is Himself, than the other blessed in their happiness,
which is not themselves. Therefore His happiness sets
His desire more at rest, and is more perfect.
Further. That which is by essence transcends that
which is by participation : thus the nature of fire is found
to be more perfect in fire itself than in that which is ignited.
Now God is happy essentially. 3 And this can apply to no
other : for nothing besides Him can be the sovereign good,
as may be gathered from what has been said. 4 Hence it
follows that whosoever besides Him is happy, is happy by
1 Ch. ci. 2 Ch. xci. 3 Ch. ci. * Ch. xli.
CHAPTER CII 213
participation. Therefore God's happiness surpasses all
Moreover. Happiness consists in the perfect operation
of the intellect, as we have proved. 1 Now no other intel-
lectual operation is comparable with His operation. This
is evident not only from its being a subsistent operation,
but also because by the one operation God understands
Himself perfectly as He is, as well as all things, both those
which are and those which are not, both good and evil. 2
Whereas in other intelligent beings their act of understand-
ing themselves is not subsistent, but the act of a subsistence.
Nor can anyone understand God, the supremely intelligible,
as perfectly as He perfectly is : since no one's being is
perfect as the divine being is perfect, and no being's opera-
tion can be more perfect than its substance. Nor is there
any other intellect that knows all those things even which
God can make, for then it would comprehend the divine
power. Moreover whatsoever things another intellect
knows, it knows them not all by one same operation.
Therefore God is incomparably happy above all things.
Again. The more united a thing is, the more perfect
its power and goodness. Now a successive operation is
divided according to various portions of time. Wherefore
its perfection can nowise be compared with the perfection
of that operation which is simultaneously whole without
any succession : especially if it pass not away in an instant
but abide eternally. Now the divine act of intelligence is
void of succession, since it exists eternally, simultaneously
whole: 3 whereas our act of understanding is successive,
for as much as it is accidentally connected with continuity
and time. Therefore God's happiness infinitely surpasses
man's : even as the duration of eternity surpasses the
passing now of time.
Again. Weariness, and the various occupations which
in this life must needs interrupt our contemplation wherein
especially consists human happiness, if there be any in this
life; errors, doubts, and the various misfortunes to which
1 Ch. c. 2 Ch. xliv. seqq. 5 Ch. lv.
2i 4 THE SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES
the present life is subject — all these show that human
happiness, especially in this life, cannot bear comparison
with the happiness of God.
Moreover. The perfection of the divine happiness may
be gathered from the fact that it comprises all manner of
happiness in the most perfect way. 1 In regard to contem-
plative happiness, it contains the most perfect everlasting
consideration of Himself and other things : and in regard
to active happiness, it comprises the governance, not of
one man's life, or of one household or city or kingdom, but
of the whole universe.
False and earthly happiness is but a shadow of that most
perfect happiness. For it consists of five things, accord-
ing to Boethius, 2 namely pleasure, wealth, power, honour
and renown. But God has the most supreme pleasure in
Himself, and universal joy in all good things, without any
admixture of the contrary. 3 For wealth He possesses in
Himself an all-sufficiency of all good things, as we have
proved above. 4 For power He has infinite might. 5 For
honour He has supremacy and governance over all things. 6
For renown He has the admiration of every intellect Which
knows Him in any degree whatever. 7
TO HIM THEREFORE WHO IS SINGULARLY HAPPY, BE
HONOUR AND GLORY FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.
1 Chs. xciii., xciv. 2 De Consol. iii., pros. 2.
3 Ch. xc. 4 Ch. c.
6 Ch. xliii. 6 Ch. xiii.
7 Sum. Th. P. I., Q. xxvi., A. 4.
BQ 6862 .A3 E6 v. 1 c.2 SMC
Thomas Aquinas. St.
The Summa contra gentiles